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Full text of "Marriage"

C. A. HILPERT 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 

GIFT OF 

Santa Monica Public Library 



MR. WELLS HAS ALSO WRITTEN 
The following Novels: 

TONO BUNGAY 
LOVE AND MR. LEWISHAM 
KIPP9 ANN VERONICA 

THE BISTORT OF MR. FOLLY 
and THE NEW MACHIAVELLI 

Numerous short stories now publish- 
ed in a single volume under the title. 

THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND 

The following: fantastic Romances: 

THE TIME MACHINE 
THE WONDERFUL VISIT 
THE INVISIBLE MAN 
THE WAR. OF THE WORLDS 
THE SEA LADY 
IN THE DAYS OF>HE COMET 
THE SLEEPER AWAKES 
THE FOOD OF THE GODS 
THE WAR IN THE AIR 
THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 
and THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU 

And a series of books upon social and political 
questions of which 

A MODERN 'UTOPIA 

FIRST AND LAST THINGS (RELIGION) 

NEW WORLDS FOR OLD 

THE FUTURE IN AMERICA 

and ANTICIPATIONS 
are the chief. 



MARRIAGE 



MARRIAGE 



BT 

H. G. WELLS 



"And the Poor Dears haven't the shadow of a dobt they YfiM Mv 
happily ever afterwards." Frvm a Private Letter. 




NEW YORK 
DUFFIELD & COMPANY 

1912 



COPYRIGHT. 19U 

DUFFIELD & COMPANY 



College 
Librar/ 

PR 

5174 



Mli 



FRATERNALLY 

TO 

ARNOLD BENNETT 



CONTENTS 

BOOK THE FIRST 

MARJORIE MARRIES 

CHAFTBR PAQB 

I. A DAT WITH THE POPES .... 3 

II. THE Two PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET . . 49 

III. THE MAN WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY . .110 

IV. CRISIS 161 

V. A TELEPHONE CALL 183 

BOOK THE SECOND 

MARJORIE MARRIED 

I. SETTLING DOWN : .217 

II. THE CHILD OF THE AGES . . . .251 
III. THE NEW PHASE 272 

BOOK THE THIRD 

MARJORIE AT LONELY HUT 

I. SUCCESSES i . $55 

II. TRAFFORD DECIDES TO GO . . . . 388 

III. THE PILGRIMAGE TO LONELY HUT . .431 

IV. .LONELY HUT 448 

V. THE TRAIL TO THE SEA . . . .518 






BOOK THE FIRST 
MARJORIE MARRIES 



MARRIAGE 




i 

AN extremely pretty girl occupied a second-class 
compartment in one of those trains which percolate 
through the rural tranquillities of middle England 
from Ganford in Oxfordshire to Rumbold Junction 
in Kent. She was going to join her family at Bury- 
hamstreet after a visit to some Gloucestershire 
friends. Her father, Mr. Pope, once a leader in the 
coach-building world and now by retirement a gentle- 
man, had taken the Buryhamstreet vicarage furnished 
for two months (beginning on the fifteenth of July) 
at his maximum summer rental of seven guineas a 
week. His daughter was on her way to this retreat. 
At first she had been an animated traveller, erect 
and keenly regardful of every detail upon the plat- 
forms of the stations at which her conveyance linger- 
ed, but the tedium of the journey and the warmth of 
the sunny afternoon had relaxed her pose by imper- 
ceptible degrees, and she sat now comfortably in the 
corner, with her neat toes upon the seat before her, 
ready to drop them primly at the first sign of a 
fellow-traveller. Her expression lapsed more and 
more towards an almost somnolent reverie. She 
wished she had not taken a second-class ticket, because 
then she might have afforded a cup of tea at Reading, 



4 MARRIAGE 

and so fortified herself against this insinuating 
indolence. 

She was travelling second class, instead of third as 
she ought to have done, through one of those lapses 
so inevitable to young people in her position. The 
two Carmel boys and a cousin, two greyhounds and a 
chow had come to see her off; they had made a bril- 
liant and prosperous group on the platform and 
extorted the manifest admiration of two youthful 
porters, and it had been altogether too much for 
Marjorie Pope to admit it was the family custom 
except when her father's nerves had to be considered 
to go third class. So she had made a hasty calcu- 
lation she knew her balance to a penny because of 
the recent tipping and found it would just run to 
it. Fourpence remained, and there would be a por- 
ter at Buryhamstreet ! 

Her mother had said: "You will have Ample." 
Well, opinions of amplitude vary. With numerous 
details fresh in her mind, Marjorie decided it would 
be wiser to avoid financial discussion during her first 
few days at Buryhamstreet. 

There was much in Marjorie's equipment in the 
key of travelling second class at the sacrifice of after- 
noon tea. There was, for example, a certain quiet 
goodness of style about her clothes, though the skirt 
betrayed age, and an entire absence of style about 
her luggage, which was all in the compartment with 
her, and which consisted of a distended hold-all, a 
very good tennis racquet in a stretcher, a portman- 
teau of cheap white basketwork held together by 
straps, and a very new, expensive-looking and mere- 
tricious dressing-bag of imitation morocco, which had 
been one of her chief financial errors at Oxbridge. 
The collection was eloquent indeed of incompatible 
standards. 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 5 

Marjorie had a chin that was small in size if 
resolute in form, and a mouth that was not noticeably 
soft and weak because it was conspicuously soft and 
pretty. Her nose was delicately aquiline and very 
subtly and finely modelled, and she looked out upon 
the world with steady, grey-blue eyes beneath broad, 
level brows that contradicted in a large measure the 
hint of weakness below. She had an abundance of 
copper-red hair, which flowed back very prettily from 
her broad, low forehead and over her delicate ears, 
and she had that warm-tinted clear skin that goes 
so well with reddish hair. She had a very dainty neck, 
and the long slender lines of her body were full of 
the promise of a riper beauty. She had the good 
open shoulders of a tennis-player and a swimmer. 
Some day she was to be a tall, ruddy, beautiful 
woman. She wore simple clothes of silvery grey and 
soft green, and about her waist was a belt of grey 
leather in which there now wilted two creamy-petalled 
roses. 

That was the visible Marjorie. Somewhere out of 
time and space was an invisible Marjorie who looked 
out on the world with those steady eyes, and smiled 
or drooped with the soft red lips, and dreamt, and 
wondered, and desired. 

I* 

What a queer thing the invisible human being 
would appear if, by some discovery as yet inconceiv- 
able, some spiritual X-ray photography, we could 
flash it into sight! Long ago I read a book called 
"Soul Shapes" that was full of ingenious ideas, but I 
doubt very much if the thing so revealed would have 
any shape, any abiding solid outline at all. It is 
something more fluctuating and discursive than that , 



6 MARRIAGE 

at any rate, for every one young enough not to 
have set and hardened. Things come into it and 
become it, things drift out of it and cease to be it, 
things turn upside down in it and change and colour 
and dissolve, and grow and eddy about and blend 
into each other. One might figure it, I suppose, as a 
preposterous jumble animated by a will; a flounder- 
ing disconnectedness through which an old hump of 
impulse rises and thrusts unaccountably; a river 
beast of purpose wallowing in a back eddy of mud 
and weeds and floating objects and creatures drown- 
ed. Now the sunshine of gladness makes it all vivid, 
now it is sombre and grimly insistent under the sky 
of some darkling mood, now an emotional gale sweeps 
across it and it is one confused agitation. 

And surely these invisible selves of men were never 
so jumbled, so crowded, complicated, and stirred 
about as they are at the present time. Once I am 
told they had a sort of order, were sphered in relig- 
ious beliefs, crystal clear, were arranged in a cos- 
mogony that fitted them as hand fits glove, were 
separated by definite standards of right and wrong 
which presented life as planned in all its essential 
aspects from the cradle to the grave. Things are so 
no longer. That sphere is broken for most of us; 
even if it is tied about and mended again, it is burst 
like a seed case; things have fallen out and things 
have fallen in. ... 

Can I convey in any measure how it was with 
Marjorie? 

What was her religion? 

In college forms and returns, and suchlike docu- 
ments, she would describe herself as "Church of 
England." She had been baptized according to the 
usages of that body, but she had hitherto evaded 
confirmation into it, and although it is a large, 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 7 

wealthy, and powerful organization with many minds 
to serve it, it had never succeeded in getting into her 
quick and apprehensive intelligence any lucid and 
persuasive conception of what it considered God and 
the universe were up to with her. It had failed to 
catch her attention and state itself to her. A num- 
ber of humorous and other writers and the general 
trend of talk around her, and perhaps her own shrewd 
little observation of superficial things, had, on the 
other hand, created a fairly definite belief in her that 
it wasn't as a matter of fact up to very much at all, 
that what it said wasn't said with that absolute 
honesty which is a logical necessity in every religious 
authority, and that its hierarchy had all sorts of 
political and social considerations confusing its treat- 
ment of her immortal soul. 

Marjorie followed her father in abstaining from 
church. He too professed himself "Church of Eng- 
land," but he was, if we are to set aside merely super- 
ficial classifications, an irascible atheist with a respect 
for usage and Good Taste, and an abject fear of the 
disapproval of other gentlemen of his class. For 
the rest he secretly disliked clergymen on account of 
the peculiarity of their collars, and a certain in- 
fluence they had with women. When Marjorie at the 
age of fourteen had displayed a hankering after ec- 
clesiastical ceremony and emotional religion, he had 
declared: "We don't want any of that nonsense," 
and sent her into the country to a farm where there 
were young calves and a bottle-fed lamb and kittens. 
At times her mother went to church and displayed 
considerable orthodoxy and punctilio, at times the 
good lady didn't, and at times she thought in a broad- 
minded way that there was a Lot in Christian Science, 
and subjected herself to the ministrations of an 
American named Silas Root. But his ministrations 



8 MARRIAGE 

veere too expensive for continuous use, and so the old 
faith did not lose its hold upon the family altogether. 

At school Marjorie had been taught what I may 
best describe as Muffled Christianity a temperate 
and discreet system designed primarily not to irritate 
parents, in which the painful symbol of the cruci- 
fixion and the riddle of what Salvation was to save 
her from, and, indeed, the coarser aspects of religion 
generally, were entirely subordinate to images of 
amiable perambulations, and a rich mist of finer feel- 
ings. She had been shielded, not only from argu- 
ments against her religion, but from arguments for 
it the two things go together and I do not think 
it was particularly her fault if she was now growing 
up like the great majority of respectable English 
people, with her religious faculty as it were, arti- 
ficially faded, and an acquired disposition to regard 
any speculation of why she was, and whence and 
whither, as rather foolish, not verv important, and 
in the very worst possible taste. 

And so, the crystal globe being broken which once 
held souls together, you may expect to find her a little 
dispersed and inconsistent in her motives, and with 
none of that assurance a simpler age possessed of the 
exact specification of goodness or badness, the exact 
delimitation of right and wrong. Indeed, she did not 
live in a world of right and wrong, or anything so 
stern; "horrid" and "jolly" had replaced these 
archaic orientations. In a world where a mercantile 
gentility has conquered passion and God is neither 
blasphemed nor adored, there necessarily arises this 
generation of young people, a little perplexed, indeed, 
and with a sense of something missing, but feeling 
their way inevitably at last to the great releasing 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 9 

question, " Then why shouldn't we have a good 
time? " 

Yet there was something in Marjorie, as in most 
human beings, that demanded some general idea, some 
aim, to hold her life together. A girl upon the borders 
of her set at college was fond! of the phrase " living 
for the moment," and Marjorie associated with it the 
speaker's lax mouth, sloe-like eyes, soft, quick-flush- 
ing, boneless face, and a habit of squawking and 
bouncing in a forced and graceless manner. Mar- 
jorie's natural disposition was to deal with life in a 
steadier spirit than that. Yet all sorts of powers 
and forces were at work in her, some exalted, some 
elvish, some vulgar, some subtle. She felt keenly and 
desired strongly, and in effect she came perhaps 
nearer the realization of that offending phrase than 
its original exponent. She had a clean intensity of 
feeling that made her delight in a thousand various 
things, in sunlight and textures, and the vividly 
quick acts of animals, in landscape, and the 
beauty of other girls, in wit, and people's voices, and 
good strong reasoning, and the desire and skill of art. 
She had a clear, rapid memory that made her excel 
perhaps a little too easily at school and college, an 
eagerness of sympathetic interest that won people 
very quickly and led to disappointments, and a very 
strong sense of the primary importance of Miss 
Marjorie Pope in the world. And when any very 
definite dream of what she would like to be and what 
she would like to do, such as being the principal of a 
ladies' college, or the first woman member of Parlia- 
ment, or the wife of a barbaric chief in Borneo, or a 
great explorer, or the wife of a millionaire and a 
great social leader, or George Sand, or Saint Te- 
resa, had had possession of her imagination for a few 
weeks, an entirely contrasted and equally attractive 



10 MARRIAGE 

dream would presently arise beside it and compete 
with it and replace it. It wasn't so much that she 
turned against the old one as that she was attracted 
by the new, and she forgot the old dream rather than 
abandoned it, simply because she was only one person, 
and hadn't therefore the possibility of realizing both. 
In certain types Marjorie's impressionability 
aroused a passion of proselytism. People of the most 
diverse kinds sought to influence her, and they in- 
variably did so. Quite a number of people, including 
her mother and the principal of her college, believed 
themselves to be the leading influence in her life. And 
this was particularly the case with her aunt Plessing- 
ton. Her aunt Plessington was devoted to social and 
political work of an austere and aggressive sort (in 
which Mr. Plessington participated) ; she was child- 
less, and had a Movement of her own, the Good 
Habits Movement, a progressive movement of the 
utmost scope and benevolence which aimed at exten- 
sive interferences with the food and domestic intima- 
cies of the more defenceless lower classes by means 
ultimately of legislation, and she had Marjorie up 
to see her, took her for long walks white she influenced 
with earnestness and vigour, and at times had an air 
of bequeathing her mantle, movement and everything, 
quite definitely to her " little Madge." She spoke of 
training her niece to succeed her, and bought all the 
novels of Mrs. Humphry Ward for her as they 
appeared, in the hope of quickening in her that 
flame of politico-social ambition, that insatiable 
craving for dinner-parties with important guests, 
which is so distinctive of the more influential variety 
of English womanhood. It was due rather to her 
own habit of monologue than to any reserve on the 
part of Marjorie that she entertained the belief that 
her niece was entirely acquiescent in these projects. 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 11 

They went into Marjorie's mind and passed. For 
nearly a week, it is true, she had dramatized herself 
as the angel and inspiration of some great modern 
statesman, but this had been ousted by a far more 
insistent dream, begotten by a picture she had seen 
in some exhibition, of a life of careless savagery, 
whose central and constantly recurrent incident was 
the riding of barebacked 1 horses out of deep-shadow- 
ed forest into a foamy sunlit sea in a costume that 
would certainly have struck Aunt Plessington as a 
mistake. 

If you could have seen Marjorie in her railway 
compartment, with the sunshine, sunshine mottled by 
the dirty window, tangled in her hair and creeping to 
and fro over her face as the train followed the curves 
of the line, you would certainly have agreed with me 
that she was pretty, and you might even have thought 
her beautiful. But it was necessary to fall in love 
with Marjorie before you could find her absolutely 
beautiful. You might have speculated just what 
business was going on behind those drowsily thought- 
ful eyes. If you are as people say " Victorian," 
you might even have whispered "Day Dreams," at 
the sight of her. . . . 

She was dreaming, and in a sense she was thinking 
of beautiful things. But only mediately. She was 
thinking how very much she would enjoy spending 
freely and vigorously, quite a considerable amount 
of money, heaps of money. 

You see, the Carmels, with whom she had just 
been staying, were shockingly well off. They had two 
motor cars with them in the country, and the boys 
had the use of the second one as though it was just 
an old bicycle. Marjorie had had a cheap white 
dinner-dtess, made the year before by a Chelsea 
French girl, a happy find of her mother's, and it was 



12 MARRIAGE 

shapely and simple and not at all bad, and she had 
worn her grgen beads and her Egyptian necklace of 
jade; but Kitty Carmel and her sister had had a new 
costume nearly every night, and pretty bracelets, 
and rubies, big pearls, and woven gold, and half a 
score of delightful and precious things for neck and 
hair. Everything in the place was bright and good 
and abundant, the servants were easy and well-man- 
nered, without a trace of hurry or resentment, and 
one didn't have to be sharp about the eggs and things 
at breakfast in the morning, or go without. All 
through the day, and even when they had gone to 
bathe from the smart little white and green shed on 
the upper lake, Marjorie had been made to feel the 
insufficiency of her equipment. Kitty Carmel, being 
twenty-one, possessed her own cheque-book and had 
accounts running at half a dozen West-end shops ; 
and both sisters had furnished their own rooms ac- 
cording to their taste, with a sense of obvious effect 
that had set Marjorie speculating just how a room 
might be done by a girl with a real eye for colour 
and a real brain behind it. ... 

The train slowed down for the seventeenth time. 
Marjorie looked up and read "Buryhamstreet." 

8 

Her reverie vanished, and by a complex but al- 
most instantaneous movement she had her basket off 
the rack and the carriage door open. She became 
teeming anticipations. There, advancing in a string, 
were Daffy, her elder sister, Theodore, her younger 
brother, and the dog Toupee. Sydney and Rom 
hadn't come. Daffy was not copper red like her sis- 
ter, but really quite coarsely red-haired; she was 
bigger than Marjorie, and with irregular teath in- 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 13 

stead of Marjorie's neat row; she confessed them in 
a broad simple smile of welcome. Theodore was 
hatless, rustily fuzzy-headed, and now a wealth of 
quasi-humorous gesture. The dog Toupee was 
straining at a leash, and doing its best in a yapping, 
confused manner, to welcome the wrong people by 
getting its lead round their legs. 

"Toupee!" cried Marjorie, waving the basket. 
"Toupee!" 

They all called it Toupee because it was like one, 
but the name was forbidden in her father's hearing. 
Her father had decided that the proper name for a 
family dog in England is Towser, and did his utmost 
to suppress a sobriquet that was at once unprece- 
dented and not in the best possible taste. Which was 
why the whole family, with the exception of Mrs. 
Pope, of course, stuck to Toupee. . . . 

Marjorie flashed a second's contrast with the 
Carmel splendours. 

"Hullo, old Daffy. What's it like?" she asked, 
handing out the basket as her sister came up. 

" It's a lark," said Daffy. " Where's the dress- 
ing-bag?" 

" Thoddy," said Marjorie, following up the 
dressing-bag with the hold-all. " Lend a hand." 

" Stow it, Toupee," said Theodore, and caught 
the hold-all in time. 

In another moment Marjorie was out of the 
train, had done the swift kissing proper to the occa- 
sion, and rolled a hand over Toupee's head Toupee, 
who, after a passionate lunge at a particularly 
savoury drover from the next compartment, was now 
frantically trying to indicate that Marjorie was the 
one human being he had ever cared for. Brother 
and sister were both sketching out the state of affairs 
at Buryhanistreet Vicarage in rapid competitive 



14 MARRIAGE 

jerks, each eager to tell things first and the whole 
party moved confusedly towards the station exit. 
Things pelted into Marjorie's mind. 

" We've got an old donkey-cart. I thought we 
shouldn't get here ever. . . . Madge, we can go 
up the church tower whenever we like, only old Daffy 
won't let me shin up the flagstaff. It's perfectly 
safe you couldn't fall off if you tried. . . . Had 
positively to get out at the level crossing and pull 
him over. . . . There's a sort of moat in the gar- 
den. . . . You never saw such furniture, Madge! 
And the study! It's hung with texts, and stuffed 
with books about the Scarlet Woman. . . . Piano's 
rather good, it's a Broadwood. . . . The Dad's 
got a war on about the tennis net. Oh, frightful! 
You'll see. It won't keep up. He's had a letter 
kept waiting by the Times for a fortnight, and it's a 
terror at breakfast. Says the motor people have 
used influence to silence him. Says that's a game two 
can play at. ... Old Sid got herself upset stuff- 
ing windfalls. Rather a sell for old Sid, considering 
how refined she's getting. . . . ' 

There was a brief lull as the party got into the 
waiting governess cart. Toupee, after a preliminary 
refusal to enter, made a determined attempt on the 
best seat, from which he would be able to bark in a 
persistent, official manner at anything that passed. 
That suppressed, and Theodore's proposal to drive 
refused, they were able to start, and attention was 
concentrated upon Daffy's negotiation of the station 
approach. Marjorie turned on her brother with a 
smile of warm affection. 

" How are you, old Theodore ?" 

" I'm all right, old Madge." 

"Mummy?" 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 15 

" Every one's all right," said' Theodore ; " if it 
wasn't for that damned infernal net " 

" Ssssh !" cried both sisters together. 

" He says it," said Theodore. 

Both sisters conveyed a grave and relentless dis- 
approval. 

" Pretty bit of road," said Marjorie. " I like 
that little house at the corner." 

A pause and the eyes of the sisters met. 

" He's here," said Daffy. 

Marjorie affected ignorance. 

" Who's here?" 

" II vostro senior Miraculoso." 

" Just as though a fellow couldn't understand 
your kiddy little Italian," said Theodore, pulling 
Toupee's ear. 

" Oh well, I thought he might be," said Marjorie, 
regardless of her brother. 

" Oh !" said Daffy. " I didn't know " 

Both sisters looked at each other, and then both 
glanced at Theodore. He met Marjorie's eyes with 
a grimace of profound solemnity. 

" Little brothers," he said, " shouldn't know. 
Just as though they didn't! Rot! But let's change 
the subject, my dears, all the same. Lemme see. 
There are a new sort of flea on Toupee, Madge, that 
he gets from the hens." 

" 7* a new sort," corrected Daffy. " He's hor- 
rider than ever, Madge. He leaves his soap in soak 
now to make us think he has used it. This is the 
village High Street. Isn't it jolly?" 

" Corners don't bite people," said Theodore, with 
a critical eye to the driving. 

Marjorie surveyed the High Street, while Daffy 
devoted a few moments to Theodore. 

The particular success of the village was its 



16 MARRIAGE 

brace of chestnut trees which, with that noble disre- 
gard of triteness which is one of the charms of vil- 
lages the whole world over, shadowed the village 
smithy. On either side of the roadway between it 
and the paths was a careless width of vivid grass 
protected by white posts, which gave way to admit a 
generous access on either hand to a jolly public 
house, leering over red blinds, and swinging a painted 
sign against its competitor. Several of the cottages 
had real thatch and most had porches; they had 
creepers nailed to their faces, and their gardens, 
crowded now with flowers, marigolds, begonias, snap- 
dragon, delphiniums, white foxgloves, and monks- 
hood, seemed almost too good to be true. The 
doctor's house was pleasantly Georgian, and the 
village shop, which was also a post and telegraph 
office, lay back with a slight air of repletion, keeping 
its bulging double shop-windows wide open in a mani- 
fest attempt not to fall asleep. Two score of shock- 
headed boys and pinafored girls were drilling upon a 
bald space of ground before the village school, and 
near by, the national emotion at the ever-memorable 
Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria had evoked an 
artistic drinking-fountain of grey stone. Beyond 
the subsequent green there were the correctest geese 
thereon the village narrowed almost to a normal 
road again, and then, recalling itself with a start, 
lifted a little to the churchyard wall about the grey 
and ample church. " It's just like all the villages 
that ever were," said Marjorie, and gave a cry of 
delight when Daffy, pointing to the white gate be- 
tween two elm trees that led to the vicarage, remark- 
ed: "That's us." 

In confirmation of which statement, Sydney and 
Rom, the two sisters next in succession to Marjorie, 
and with a strong tendency to be twins in spite of the 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 17 

year between them, appeared in a state of vociferous 
incivility opening the way for the donkey-carriage. 
Sydney was Sydney, and Rom was just short for 
Romola one of her mother's favourite heroines in 
fiction. 

" Old Madge," they said ; and then throwing 
respect to the winds, " Old Gargoo !" which was Mar- 
jorie's forbidden nickname, and short for gargoyle 
(though surely only Victorian Gothic, ever produced 
a gargoyle that had the remotest right to be associ- 
ated with the neat brightness of Marjorie's face). 

She overlooked the offence, and the pseudo-twins 
boarded the cart from behind, whereupon the already 
overburthened donkey, being old and in a manner 
wise, quickened his pace for the house to get the 
whole thing over. 

" It's really an avenue," said Daffy ; but Mar- 
jorie, with her mind strung up to the Carmel stand- 
ards, couldn't agree. It was like calling a row of 
boy-scouts Potsdam grenadiers. The trees were at 
irregular distances, of various ages, and mostly on 
one side. Still it was a shady, pleasant approach. 

And the vicarage was truly very interesting and 
amusing. To these Londoners accustomed to live in 
a state of compression, elbows practically touching, 
in a tall, narrow fore-and-aft stucco house, all win- 
dow and staircase, in a despondent Brompton square, 
there was an effect of maundering freedom about the 
place, of enlargement almost to the pitch of adven- 
ture and sunlight to the pitch of intoxication. The 
house itself was long and low, as if a London house 
holidaying in the country had flung itself asprawl ; it 
had two disconnected and roomy staircases, and when 
it had exhausted itself completely as a house, it 
turned to the right and began again as rambling, 
empty stables, coach house, cart sheds, men's bed- 



18 MARRIAGE 

rooms up ladders, and outhouses of the most various 
kinds. On one hand was a neglected orchard, in the 
front of the house was a bald, worried-looking lawn 
area capable of simultaneous tennis and croquet, and 
at the other side a copious and confused vegetable 
and flower garden full of roses, honesty, hollyhocks, 
and suchlike herbaceous biennials and perennials, 
lapsed at last into shrubbery, where a sickle-shaped, 
weedy lagoon of uncertain aims, which had evidently, 
as a rustic bridge and a weeping willow confessed, 
aspired to be an " ornamental water," declined at 
last to ducks. And there was access to the church, 
and the key of the church tower, and one went across 
the corner of the lawn, and by a little iron gate into 
the churchyard to decipher inscriptions, as if the 
tombs of all Buryhamstreet were no more than a part 
of the accommodation relinquished by the vicar's 
household. 

Marjorie was hurried over the chief points of all 
this at a breakneck pace by Sydney and Rom, and 
when Sydney was called away to the horrors of prac- 
tice for Sydney in spite of considerable reluctance 
was destined by her father to be " the musical one " 
Rom developed a copious affection, due apparently 
to some occult aesthetic influence in Mar j one's sil- 
very-grey and green, and led her into the unlocked 
vestry, and there prayed in a whisper that she might 
be given " one good hug, just one " and so they 
came out with their arms about each other very 
affectionately to visit the lagoon again. And then 
Rom remembered that Marjorie hadn't seen either 
the walnut-tree in the orchard, or the hen with nine 
chicks. . . . 

Somewhere among all these interests came tea and 
Mrs. Pope. 

Mrs. Pope kissed her daughter with an air of 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 19 

having really wanted to kiss her half an hour ago, 
but of having been distracted since. She was a fine- 
featured, anxious-looking little woman, with a close 
resemblance to all her children, in spite of the fact 
that they were markedly dissimilar one to the other, 
except only that they took their ruddy colourings 
from their father. She was dressed in a neat blue 
dress that had perhaps been hurriedly chosen, and 
her method of doing her hair was a manifest com- 
promise between duty and pleasure. She embarked 
at once upon an exposition of the bedroom arrange- 
ments, which evidently involved difficult issues. Mar- 
jorie was to share a room with Daffy that was the 
gist of it as the only other available apartment, 
originally promised to Marjorie, had been secured 
by Mr. Pope for what he called his " matutinal ablu- 
tions, videlicet tub." 

" Then, when your Aunt Plessington comes, you 
won't have to move," said Mrs. Pope with an air of 
a special concession. " Your father's looking for- 
ward to seeing you, but he mustn't be disturbed just 
yet. He's in the vicar's study. He's had his tea 
in there. He's writing a letter to the Times answer- 
ing something they said in a leader, and also a 
private note calling attention to their delay in print- 
ing his previous communication, and he wants to be 
delicately ironical without being in any way offen- 
sive. He wants to hint without actually threatening 
that very probably he will go over to the Spectator 
altogether if they do not become more attentive. 
The Times used to print his letters punctually, but 
latterly these automobile people seem to have got 
hold of it. . . . He has the window on the lawn 
open, so that I think, perhaps, we'd better not stay 
out here for fear our voices might disturb him." 



20 MARRIAGE 

" Better get right round the other side of the 
church," said Daffy. 

" He'd hear far less of us if we went indoors," 
said Mrs. Pope. 

v 4 

The vicarage seemed tight packed with human 
interest for Marjorie and her mother and sisters. 
Going over houses is one of the amusements proper to 
her sex, and she and all three sisters and her mother, 
as soon as they had finished an inaudible tea, went to 
see the bedroom she was to share with Daffy, and then 
examined, carefully and in order, the furniture and 
decoration of the other bedrooms, went through the 
rooms downstairs, always excepting and avoiding 
very carefully and closing as many doors as possible 
on, and hushing their voices whenever they approach- 
ed, the study in which her father was being delicately 
ironical without being offensive to the Times. None 
of them had seen any of the vicarage people at all 
Mr. Pope had come on a bicycle and managed all the 
negotiations and it was curious to speculate about 
the individuals whose personalities pervaded the 
worn and faded furnishings of the place. 

The Popes' keen-eyed inspection came at times, I 
think, dangerously near prying. The ideals of decor- 
ation and interests of the vanished family were so 
absolutely dissimilar to the London standards as to 
arouse a sort of astonished wonder in their minds. 
Some of the things they decided were perfectly hid- 
eous, some quaint, some were simply and weakly silly. 
Everything was different from Hartstone Square. 
Daffy was perhaps more inclined to contempt, and 
Mrs. Pope to refined amusement and witty apprecia- 
tion than Marjorie. Marjorie felt there was some- 
thing in these people that she didn't begin to 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 21 

understand, she needed some missing clue that would 
unlock the secret of their confused peculiarity. She 
was one of those people who have an almost instinc- 
tive turn for decoration in costume and furniture; 
she had already had a taste of how to do things in 
arranging her rooms at Bennett College, Oxbridge, 
where also she was in great demand among the richer 
girls as an adviser. She knew what it was to try 
and fail as well as to try and succeed, and these 
people, she felt, hadn't tried for anything she com- 
prehended. She couldn't quite see why it was that 
there was at the same time an attempt at ornament 
and a disregard of beauty, she couldn't quite do as 
her mother did and dismiss it as an absurdity and 
have done with it. She couldn't understand, too, 
why everything should be as if it were faded and 
weakened from something originally bright and clear. 
All the rooms were thick with queer little objects 
that indicated a quite beaver-like industry in the pro- 
duction of "work." There were embroidered covers 
for nearly every article on the wash-hand-stand, and 
mats of wool and crochet wherever anything stood on 
anything ; there were " tidies " everywhere, and odd 
little brackets covered with gilded and varnished fir 
cones and bearing framed photographs and little jars 
and all sorts of colourless, dusty little objects, and 
everywhere on the walls tacks sustained crossed fans 
with badly painted flowers or transfer pictures. 
There was a jar on the bedroom mantel covered with 
varnished postage stamps and containing grey-hair- 
ed dried grasses. There seemed to be a moral ele- 
ment in all this, for in the room Sydney shared with 
Rom there was a decorative piece of lettering which 
declared that 

"Something attempted, something done, 
Has earned a night's repose." 



22 MARRIAGE 

There were a great number of texts that set Mar- 
jorie's mind stirring dimly with intimations of a 
missed significance. Over her own bed, within the 
lattice of an Oxford frame, was the photograph of a 
picture of an extremely composed young woman in a 
trailing robe, clinging to the Rock of Ages in the 
midst of histrionically aggressive waves, and she had 
a feeling, rather than a thought, that perhaps for 
all the oddity of the presentation it did convey some- 
thing acutely desirable, that she herself had had 
moods when she would have found something very 
comforting in just such an impassioned grip. And 
on a framed, floriferous card, these incomprehensible 
words : 



THY GRACE is SUFFICIENT FOE ME. 



seemed to be saying something to her tantalizingly 
just outside her range of apprehension. 

Did all these things light up somehow to those 
dispossessed people from some angle she didn't 
attain? Were they living and moving realities when 

The drawing-room had no texts ; it was altogeth- 
er more pretentious and less haunted by the faint and 
faded flavour of religion that pervaded the bedrooms. 
It had, however, evidences of travel in Switzerland 
and the Mediterranean. There was a piano in black 
and gold, a little out of tune, and surmounted by a 
Benares brass jar, enveloping a scarlet geranium in 
a pot. There was a Japanese screen of gold wrought 
upon black, that screened nothing. There was a 
framed chromo-lithograph of Jerusalem hot in the 
sunset, and another of Jerusalem cold under a sub- 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 23 

tropical moon, and there were gourds, roses of Jeri- 
cho, sandalwood rosaries and kindred trash from 
the Holy Land in no little profusion upon a what-not. 
Such books as the room had contained had been ar- 
ranged as symmetrically as possible about a large, 
pink-shaded lamp upon the claret-coloured cloth of 
a round table, and were to be replaced, Mrs. Pope 
said, at their departure. At present they were piled 
on a side-table. The girls had been through them 
all, and were ready with the choicer morsels for Mar- 
jorie's amusement. There was " Black Beauty," the 
sympathetic story of a soundly Anglican horse, and 
a large Bible extra-illustrated with photographs of 
every well-known scriptural picture from Michael 
Angelo to Dore, and a book of injunctions to young 
ladies upon their behaviour and deportment that 
Rom and Sydney found particularly entertaining. 
Marjorie discovered that Sydney had picked up a 
new favourite phrase. " I'm afraid we're all dread- 
fully cynical," said Sydney, several times. 

A more advanced note was struck by a copy of 
" Aurora Leigh," richly underlined in pencil, but 
with exclamation marks at some of the bolder pas- 
sages. . . . 

And presently, still avoiding the open study win- 
dow very elaborately, this little group of twentieth 
century people went again into the church the 
church whose foundations were laid in A.D. 912 
foundations of rubble and cement that included flat 
Roman bricks from a still remoter basilica. Their 
voices dropped instinctively, as they came into its 
shaded quiet from the exterior sunshine. Marjorie 
went a little apart and sat in a pew that gave her a 
glimpse of the one good stained-glass window. Rom 
followed her, and perceiving her mood to be restful, 
sat a yard away. Syd began a whispered dispute 



24 MARRIAGE 

with her mother whether it wasn't possible to try 
the organ, and whether Theodore might not be bribed 
to blow. Daffy discovered relics of a lepers' squint 
and a holy-water stoup, and then went to scrutinize 
the lettering of the ten commandments of the Mosaic 
law that shone black and red on gold on either side 
of the I.H.S. monogram behind the white-clothed 
communion table that had once been the altar. Upon 
a notice board hung about the waist of the portly 
pulpit were the numbers of hymns that had been 
sung three days ago. The sound Protestantism of 
the vicar had banished superfluous crosses from the 
building; the Bible reposed upon the wings of a great 
brass eagle ; shining blue and crimson in the window, 
Saint Christopher carried his Lord. What a har- 
monized synthesis of conflicts a country church pre- 
sents ! What invisible mysteries of filiation spread 
between these ancient ornaments and symbols and 
the new young minds from the whirlpool of the town 
that looked upon them now with such bright, keen 
eyes, wondering a little, feeling a little, missing so 
much? 

It was all so very cool and quiet now with some- 
thing of the immobile serenity of death. 

B 

When Mr. Pope had finished his letter to the 
Times, he got out of the window of the study, tread- 
ing on a flower-bed as he did so he was the sort of 
man who treads on flower-beds partly with the pur- 
pose of reading his composition aloud to as many 
members of his family as he could assemble for the 
purpose, and so giving them a chance of appreciat- 
ing the nuances of his irony more fully than if they 
saw it just in cold print without the advantage of his 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 25 

intonation, and partly with the belated idea of wel- 
coming Marjorie. The law presented a rather dis- 
couraging desolation. Then he became aware that 
the church tower frothed with his daughters. In 
view of his need of an audience, he decided after a 
brief doubt that their presence there was unobjec- 
tionable, and waved his MS. amiably. Marjorie 
flapped a handkerchief in reply. . . . 

The subsequent hour was just the sort of hour 
that gave Mr. Pope an almost meteorological im- 
portance to his family. He began with an amiability 
that had no fault, except, perhaps, that it was a 
little forced after the epistolary strain in the study, 
and his welcome to Marjorie was more than cordial. 
" Well, little Madge-cat !" he said, giving her an 
affectionate but sound and heavy thump on the left 
shoulder-blade, " got a kiss for the old daddy?" 

Marjorie submitted a cheek. 

" That's right," said Mr. Pope; " and now I just 
want you all to advise me " 

He led the way to a group of wicker garden 
chairs. "You're coming, mummy?" he said, and 
seated himself comfortably and drew out a spectacle 
case, while his family grouped itself dutifully. It 
made a charming little picture of a Man and his 
Womankind. " I don't often flatter myself," he said, 
" but this time I think I've been neat neat's the 
word for it." 

He cleared his throat, put on his spectacles, and 
emitted a long, flat preliminary note, rather like the 
sound of a child's trumpet. " Er ' Dear Sir !' " 

" Rom," said Mrs. Pope, " don't creak your 
chair." 

" It's Daffy, mother," said Rom. 

" Oh, Rom!" said Daffy. 



26 MARRIAGE 

Mr. Pope paused, and looked with a warning eye 
over his feft spectacle-glass at Rom. 

" Don't creak your chair, Rom," he said, " when 
your mother tells you." 

" I was not creaking my chair," said Rom. 

" I heard it," said Mr. Pope, suavely. 

" It was Daffy." 

" Your mother does not think so," said Mr. Pope. 

" Oh, all right ! I'll sit on the ground," said Rom, 
crimson to the roots of her hair. 

" Me too," said Daffy. " I'd rather." 

Mr. Pope watched the transfer gravely. Then he 
readjusted his glasses, cleared his throat again, 
trumpeted, and began. " Er * Dear Sir,' J 

" Oughtn't it to be simply * Sir,' father, for an 
editor?" said Marjorie. 

" Perhaps I didn't explain, Marjorie," said her 
father, with the calm of great self-restraint, and 
dabbing his left hand on the manuscript in his right, 
*' that this is a private letter a private letter." 

" I didn't understand," said Marjorie. 

" It would have been evident as I went on," said 
Mr. Pope, and prepared to read again. 

This time he was allowed to proceed, but the inter- 
ruptions had ruffled him, and the gentle stresses that 
should have lifted the subtleties of his irony into pro- 
minence missed the words, and he had to go back and 
do his sentences again. Then Rom suddenly, horribly, 
uncontrollably, was seized with hiccups. At the 
second hiccup Mr. Pope paused, and looked very 
hard at his daughter with magnified eyes ; as he was 
about to resume, the third burst its way through the 
unhappy child's utmost effort. 

Mr. Pope rose with an awful resignation. " That's 
enough," he said. He regarded the pseudo-twin vin- 
dictively. " You haven't the self-control of a child 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 27 

of six," he said. Then very touchingly to Mrs. 
Pope : " Mummy, shall we try a game of tennis with 
the New Generation?" 

" Can't you read it after supper?" asked Mrs. 
Pope. 

" It must go by the eight o'clock post," said Mr. 
Pope, putting the masterpiece into his breast pocket, 
the little masterpiece that would now perhaps never 
be read aloud to any human being. " Daffy, dear, do 
you mind going in for the racquets and balls?" 

The social atmosphere was now sultry, and over- 
cast, and Mr. Pope's decision to spend the interval 
before Daffy returned in seeing whether he couldn't 
do something to the net, which was certainly very un- 
satisfactory, did not improve matters. Then, un- 
happily, Mar j one, who had got rather keen upon 
tennis at the Carmels', claimed her father's first two 
services as faults, contrary to the etiquette of the 
family. It happened that Mr. Pope had a really 
very good, hard, difficult, smart-looking serve, whose 
only defect was that it always went either too far 
or else into the net, and so a feeling had been fostered 
and established by his wife that, on the whole, it was 
advisable to regard the former variety as a legiti- 
mate extension of a father's authority. Naturally, 
therefore, Mr. Pope was nettled at Mar j one's ruling, 
and his irritation increased when his next two services 
to Daffy perished in the net. ("Damn that net! 
Puts one's eye out.") Then Marjorie gave him an 
unexpected soft return which he somehow muffed, 
and then Daffy just dropped a return over the top 
of the net. (Love-game.) It was then Marjorie's 
turn to serve, which she did with a new twist acquired 
from the eldest Carmel boy that struck Mr. Pope as 
un-English. " Go on," he said concisely. " Fifteen 
love." 



28 MARRIAGE 

She was gentle with her mother and they got their 
first rally, and when it was over Mr. Pope had to 
explain to Marjorie that if she returned right up into 
his corner of the court he would have to run back- 
wards very fast and might fail over down the silly 
slope at that end. She would have to consider him 
and the court. One didn't get everything out of a 
game by playing merely to win. She said " All right, 
Daddy," rather off-handedly, and immediately served 
to him again, and he, taken a little unawares, hit the 
ball with the edge of his racquet and sent it out, and 
then he changed racquets with Daffy it seemed he 
had known all along she had taken his, but he had 
preferred to say nothing uttered a word of advice 
to his wife just on her stroke, and she, failing to 
grasp his intention as quickly as she ought to have 
done, left the score forty-fifteen. He felt better 
when he returned Marjorie's serve, and then before 
she could control herself she repeated her new un- 
pleasant trick of playing into the corner again, 
whereupon, leaping back with an agility that would 
have shamed many a younger man, Mr. Pope came 
upon disaster. He went spinning down the treacher- 
ous slope behind, twisted his ankle painfully and col- 
lapsed against the iron railings of the shrubbery. It 
was too much, and he lost control of himself. His 
daughters had one instant's glimpse of the linguistic 
possibilities of a strong man's agony. " I told her," 
he went on as if he had said nothing. " Tennis!" 

For a second perhaps he seemed to hesitate upon 
a course of action. Then as if by a great effort he 
took his coat from the net post and addressed himself 
houseward, incarnate Grand Dudgeon limping. 

" Had enough of it, Mummy," he said, and added 
some happily inaudible comment on Marjorie's new 
style of play. 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 29 

The evening's exercise was at an end. 

The three ladies regarded one another in silence 
for some moments. 

" I will take in the racquets, dear," said Mrs. 
Pope. 

" I think the other ball is at your end," said 
Daffy. . . . 

The apparatus put away, Marjorie and her sister 
strolled thoughtfully away from the house. 

" There's croquet here too," said Daffy. " We've 
not had the things out yet !" . . . 

" He'll play, I suppose." 

" He wants to play." . . . 

" Of course," said Marjorie after a long pause, 
" there's no reasoning with Dad !" 

O f* 

Character is one of England's noblest and most 
deliberate products, but some Englishmen have it to 
excess. Mr. Pope had. 

He was one of that large and representative class 
which imparts a dignity to national commerce by 
inheriting big businesses from its ancestors. He 
was a coach-builder by birth, and a gentleman by 
education and training. He had been to City Mer- 
chant's and Cambridge. 

Throughout the earlier half of the nineteenth 
century the Popes had been the princes of the coach- 
building world. Mr. Pope's great-grandfather had 
been a North London wheelwright of conspicuous 
dexterity and 1 integrity, who had founded the family 
business ; his son, Mr. Pope's grandfather, had made 
that business the occupation of his life and brougnt 
it to the pinnacle of pre-eminence; his son, who was 
Marjorie's grandfather, had displayed a lesser en- 



30 MARRIAGE 

thusiasm, left the house at the works for a home ten 
miles away and sent a second son into the Church. 
It was in the days of the third Pope that the business 
ceased to expand, and began to suffer severely from 
the competition of an enterprising person who had 
originally supplied the firm with varnish, gradually 
picked up the trade in most other materials and 
accessories needed in coach-building, and passed on 
by almost imperceptible stages to delivering the ar- 
ticle complete dispensing at last altogether with 
the intervention of Pope and Son to the customer. 
Marjorie's father had succeeded in the fulness of 
time to the inheritance this insurgent had damaged. 

Mr. Pope was a man of firm and resentful temper, 
with an admiration for Cato, Brutus, Cincinnatus, 
Cromwell, Washington, and the sterner heroes gen- 
erally, and by nature a little ill-used and offended at 
things. He suffered from indigestion and extreme 
irritability. He found himself in control of a busi- 
ness where more flexible virtues were needed. The 
Popes based their fame on a heavy, proud type of 
vehicle, which the increasing luxury and triviality of 
the age tended to replace by lighter forms of car- 
riage, carriages with diminutive and apologetic 
names. As these lighter forms were not only lighter 
but less expensive, Mr. Pope with a pathetic confi- 
dence in the loyalty of the better class of West End 
customer, determined to " make a stand " against 
them. He was the sort of man to whom making a 
stand is in itself a sombre joy. If he had had to 
choose his pose for a portrait, he would certainly have 
decided to have one foot advanced, the other planted 
like a British oak behind, the arms folded and the 
brows corrugated, making a stand. 

Unhappily the stars in their courses and the gen- 
eral improvement of. roads throughout the country 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 31 

fought against him. The lighter carriages, and es- 
pecially the lighter carriages of that varnish-selling 
firm, which was now absorbing businesses right and 
left, prevailed over Mr. Pope's resistance. For 
crossing a mountain pass or fording a river, for 
driving over the scene of a recent earthquake or fol- 
lowing a retreating army, for being run away with 
by frantic horses or crushing a personal enemy, 
there can be no doubt the Pope carriages remained 
to the very last the best possible ones and fully worth 
the inflexible price demanded. Unhappily all car- 
riages in a civilization essentially decadent are not 
subjected to these tests, and the manufactures of his 
rivals were not only much cheaper, but had a sort of 
meretricious smartness, a disingenuous elasticity, 
above all a levity, hateful indeed to the spirit of Mr. 
Pope yet attractive to the wanton customer. Busi- 
ness dwindled. Nevertheless the habitual element in 
the good class customer did keep things going, albeit 
on a shrinking scale, until Mr. Pope came to the un- 
fortunate decision that he would make a stand against 
automobiles. He regarded them as an intrusive 
nuisance which had to be seen only to be disowned by 
the landed gentry of England. Rather than build a 
car he said he would go out of business. He went out 
of business. Within five years of this determination 
he sold out the name, good will, and other vestiges of 
his concern to a mysterious buyer who turned out to 
be no more than an agent for these persistently ex- 
panding varnish makers, and he retired with a gen- 
uine grievance upon the family accumulations 
chiefly in Consols and Home Railways. 

He refused however to regard his defeat as final, 
put great faith in the approaching exhaustion of the 
petrol supply, and talked in a manner that should 
have made the Automobile Association uneasy, of 



32 MARRIAGE 

devoting the rest of his days to the purification of 
England from these aggressive mechanisms. " It 
was a mistake," he said, " to let them in." He became 
more frequent at his excellent West End club, and 
directed a certain portion of his capital to largely 
indecisive but on the whole unprofitable speculations 
in South African and South American enterprises. 
He mingled a little in affairs. He was a tough con- 
ventional speaker, rich in established phrases and 
never abashed by hearing himself say commonplace 
things, and in addition to his campaign against auto- 
mobiles he found time to engage also in quasi-politi- 
cal activities, taking chairs, saying a few words and 
so on, cherishing a fluctuating hope that his eloquence 
might ultimately win him an invitation to contest a 
constituency in the interests of reaction and the 
sounder elements in the Liberal party. 

He had a public-spirited side, and he was particu- 
larly attracted by that mass of modern legislative 
proposals which aims at a more systematic control of 
the lives of lower class persons for their own good by 
their betters. Indeed, in the first enthusiasm of his 
proprietorship of the Pope works at East Purblow, 
he had organized one of those benevolent industrial 
experiments that are now so common. He felt 
strongly against the drink evil, that is to say, the 
unrestricted liberty of common people to drink what 
they prefer, and he was acutely impressed by the 
fact that working-class families do not spend their 
money in the way that seems most desirable to upper 
middle-class critics. Accordingly he did his best to 
replace the dangerous freedoms of money by that 
ideal of the social reformer, Payment in Kind. To 
use his invariable phrase, the East Purblow experi- 
ment did " no mean service " to the cause of social 
reform. Unhappily it came to an end through a 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 33 

prosecution under the Truck Act, that blot upon the 
Statute Book, designed, it would appear, even delib- 
erately to vitiate man's benevolent control of his 
fellow man. The lessons to be drawn from that 
experience, however, grew if anything with the years. 
He rarely spoke without an allusion to it, and it was 
quite remarkable how readily it could be adapted to 
illuminate a hundred different issues in the hospitable 
columns of the Spectator. . . . 

7 

At seven o'clock Marjorie found herself upstairs 
changing into her apple-green frock. She had had a 
good refreshing wash in cold soft water, and it was 
pleasant to change into thinner silk stockings and 
dainty satin slippers and let down and at last brush 
her hair and dress loiteringly after the fatigues of her 
journey and the activities of her arrival. She 
looked out on the big church and the big trees behind 
it against the golden quiet of a summer evening with 
extreme approval. 

" I suppose those birds are rooks," she said. 

But Daffy had gone to see that the pseudo-twins 
had done themselves justice in their muslin frocks and 
pink sashes ; they were apt to be a little sketchy with 
their less accessible buttons. 

Marjorie became aware of two gentlemen with 
her mother on the lawn below. 

One was her almost affianced lover, Will Magnet, 
the humorous writer. She had been doing her best 
not to think about him all day, but now he became an 
unavoidable central fact. She regarded him with an 
almost perplexed scrutiny, and wondered vividly why 
she had been so excited and pleased by his attentions 
during the previous summer. 



84 MARRIAGE 

Mr. Magnet was one of those quiet, deliberately 
unassuming people who do not even attempt to be 
beautiful. Not for him was it to pretend, but to 
prick the bladder of pretence. He was a fairish man 
of forty, pale, with a large protruberant, observant 
grey eye I speak particularly of the left and a 
face of quiet animation warily alert for the wit's op- 
portunity. His nose and chin were pointed, and his 
lips thin and quaintly pressed together. He was 
dressed in grey, with a low-collared silken shirt show- 
ing a thin neck, and a flowing black tie, and he car- 
ried a grey felt hat in his joined hands behind his 
back. She could hear the insinuating cadences of his 
voice as he talked in her mother's ear. The other 
gentleman, silent on her mother's right, must, she 
knew, be Mr. Wintersloan, whom Mr. Magnet had 
proposed to bring over. His dress betrayed that 
modest gaiety of disposition becoming in an artist, 
and indeed he was one of Mr. Magnet's favourite 
illustrators. He was in a dark bluish-grey suit; a 
black tie that was quite unusually broad went twice 
around his neck before succumbing to the bow, and 
his waistcoat appeared to be of some gaily-patterned 
orange silk. Marjorie's eyes returned to Mr. Mag- 
net. Hitherto she had never had an opportunity of 
remarking that his hair was more than a little atten- 
uated towards the crown. It was funny how his tie 
came out under his chin to the right. 

What an odd thing men's dress had become, she 
thought. Why did they wear those ridiculous collars 
and ties? Why didn't they always dress in flannels 
and look as fine and slender and active as the elder 
Carmel boy for example? Mr. Magnet couldn't be 
such an ill-shaped man. Why didn't every one dress 
to be just as beautiful and splendid as possible? 
instead of wearing queer things ! 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 35 

" Coming down ?" said Daffy, a vision of sulphur- 
yellow, appearing in the doorway. 

" Let them go first," said Mar j one, with a finer 
sense of effect. '* And Theodore. We don't want to 
make part of a comic entry with Theodore, Daffy." 

Accordingly, the two sisters watched discreetly 
they had to be wary on account of Mr. Magnet's 
increasingly frequent glances at the windows and 
when at last all the rest of the family had appeared 
below, they decided their cue had come. Mr. Pope 
strolled into the group, with no trace of his recent 
debacle except a slight limp. He was wearing a 
jacket of damson-coloured 1 velvet, which he affected 
in the country, and all traces of his Grand Dudgeon 
were gone. But then he rarely had Grand Dudgeon 
except in the sanctities of family life, and hardly ever 
when any other man was about. 

" Well," his daughters heard him say, with a 
witty allusiveness that was difficult to follow, " so 
the Magnet has come to the Mountain again eh?" 

" Come on, Madge," said Daffy, and the two sis- 
ters emerged harmoniously together from the house. 

It would have been manifest to a meaner capacity 
than any present that evening that Mr. Magnet re- 
garded Mar j one with a distinguished significance. 
He had two eyes, but he had that mysterious quality 
so frequently associated with a bluish-grey iris which 
gives the effect of looking hard with one large orb, a 
sort of grey searchlight effect, and he used this eye 
ray now to convey a respectful but firm admiration 
in the most unequivocal manner. He saluted Daffy 
courteously, and then allowed himself to retain Mar- 
jorie's hand for just a second longer than was neces- 
sary as he said very simply " I am very pleased 
indeed to meet you again very." 

A slight embarrassment fell between them. 



36 MARRIAGE 

** You are staying near here, Mr. Magnet ?" 

" At the inn," said Mr. Magnet, and then, " I 
chose it because it would be near you." 

His eye pressed upon her again for a moment. 

" Is it comfortable?" said Marjorie. 

" So charmingly simple," said Mr. Magnet. " I 
love it." 

A tinkling bell announced the preparedness of 
supper, and roused the others to the consciousness 
that they were silently watching Mr. Magnet and 
Marjorie. 

" It's quite a simple farmhouse supper," said 
Mrs. Pope. 

8 

There were ducks, green peas, and adolescent new 
potatoes for supper, and afterwards stewed fruit 
and cream and junket and cheese, bottled beer, Gil- 
bey's Burgundy, and home-made lemonade. Mrs. 
Pope carved, because Mr. Pope splashed too much, 
and bones upset him and made him want to show up 
chicken in the Times. So he sat at the other end 
and rallied his guests while Mrs. Pope distributed the 
viands. He showed not a trace of his recent um- 
brage. Theodore sat between Daffy and his mother 
because of his table manners, and Marjorie was on 
her father's right hand and next to Mr. Wintersloan, 
while Mr. Magnet was in the middle of the table on 
the opposite side in a position convenient for looking 
at her. Both maids waited. 

The presence of Magnet invariably stirred the 
latent humorist in Mr. Pope. He felt that he who 
talks to humorists should himself be humorous, and it 
was his private persuasion that with more attention 
he might have been, to use a favourite form of ex- 
pression, " no mean jester." Quite a lot of little 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 37 

things of his were cherished as " Good " both by 
himself and, with occasional inaccuracies, by Mrs. 
Pope. He opened out now in a strain of rich allu- 
siveness. 

" What will you drink, Mr. Wintersloan ?" he 
said. " Wine of the country, yclept beer, red wine 
from France, or my wife's potent brew from the gol- 
den lemon?" 

Mr. Wintersloan thought he would take Bur- 
gundy. Mr. Magnet preferred beer. 

" I've heard there's iron in the Beer, 
And I believe it," 

misquoted Mr. Pope, and nodded as it were to the 
marker to score. "Daffy and Marjorie are still in 
the lemonade stage. Will you take a little Burgundy 
to-night, Mummy?" 

Mrs. Pope decided she would, and was inspired to 
ask Mr. Wintersloan if he had been in that part of 
the country before. Topography ensued. Mr. Win- 
tersloan had a style of his own, and spoke of the 
Buryhamstreet district as a " pooty little country 
pooty little hills, with a swirl in them." 

This pleased Daffy and Marjorie, and their eyes 
met for a moment. 

Then Mr. Magnet, with a ray full on Marjorie, 
said he had always been fond of Surrey. " I think 
if ever I made a home in the country I should like it 
to be here." 

Mr. Wintersloan said Surrey would tire him, it 
was too bossy and curly, too flocculent; he would 
prefer to look on broader, simpler lines, with just a 
sudden catch in the breath in them if you under- 
stand me? 

Marjorie did, and said so. 



38 MARRIAGE 

" A sob such as you get at th break of a pine- 
wood on a hill." 

This baffled Mr. Pope, but Marjorie took it. "Or 
the short dry cough of a cliff," she said. 

" Exactly," said Mr. Wintersloan, and having 
turned a little deliberate close-lipped smile on her for 
a moment, resumed his wing. 

" So long as a landscape doesn't sneeze," said 
Mr. Magnet, in that irresistible dry way of his, and 
Rom and Sydney, at any rate, choked. 

" Now is the hour when Landscapes yawn," 
mused Mr. Pope, coming in all right at the end. 

Then Mrs. Pope asked Mr. Wintersloan, about 
his route to Buryhamstreet, and then Mr. Pope asked 
Mr. Magnet whether he was playing at a new work 
or working at a new play. 

Mr. Magnet said he was dreaming over a play. 
He wanted to bring out the more serious side of his 
humour, go a little deeper into things than he had 
hitherto done. 

" Mingling smiles and tears," said Mr. Pope ap- 
provingly. 

Mr. Magnet said very quietly that all true hu- 
mour did that. 

Then Mrs. Pope asked what the pay was to be 
about, and Mr. Magnet, who seemed disinclined to 
give an answer, turned the subject by saying he had 
to prepare an address on humour for the next dinner 
of the Literati. " It's to be a humourist's dinner, 
and they've made me the guest of the evening by 
way of a joke to begin with," he said with that dry 
smile again. 

Mrs. Pope said he shouldn't say things like that. 
She then said " Syd !" quietly but sharply to Sydney, 
who was making a disdainful, squinting face at Theo- 
dore, and told the parlourmaid to clear the plates 



A. DAY WITH THE POPES 39 

for sweets. Mr. Magnet professed great horror of 
public speaking. He said that whenever he rose to 
make an after-dinner speech all the ices he had ever 
eaten seemed to come out of the past, and sit on his 
backbone. 

The talk centered for awhile on Mr. Magnet's 
address, and apropos of Tests of Humour Mr. Pope, 
who in his way was " no mean raconteur," related the 
story of the man who took the salad dressing with 
his hand, and when his host asked why he did that, 
replied : *' Oh ! I thought it was spinach !" 

" Many people," added Mr. Pope, " wouldn't see 
the point of that. And if they don't see the point 
they can't and the more they try the less they do." 

All four girls hoped secretly and not too confi- 
dently that their laughter had not sounded hollow. 

And then for a time the men told stories as thej 
came into their heads in an easy, irresponsible way. 
Mr. Magnet spoke of the humour of the omnibus- 
driver who always dangled and twiddled his badge 
" by way of a joke " when he passed the conductor 
whose father had been hanged, and Mr. Pope, per- 
haps, a little irrelevantly, told the story of the little 
boy who was asked his father's last words, and said 
" mother was with him to the end," which particularly 
amused Mrs. Pope. Mr. Wintersloan gave the story 
of the woman who was taking her son to the hospital 
with his head jammed into a saucepan, and explain- 
ed to the other people in the omnibus : " You see, 
what makes it so annoying, it's me only saucepan !" 
Then they came back to the Sense of Humour with 
the dentist who shouted with laughter, and when asked 
the reason by his patient, choked out : " Wrong 
tooth!" and then Mr. Pope reminded them of the 
heartless husband who, suddenly informed that his 



40 MARRIAGE 

mother-in-law was dead, exclaimed " Oh, don't make 
me laugh, please, I've got a split lip. . . . r 

9 

The conversation assumed a less anecdotal qual- 
ity with the removal to the drawing-room. On Mr. 
Magnet's initiative the gentlemen followed the ladies 
almost immediately, and it was Mr. Magnet who 
remembered that Marjorie could sing. 

Both the elder sisters indeed had sweet clear 
voices, and they had learnt a number of those jolly 
songs the English made before the dull Hanoverians 
came. Syd accompanied, and Rom sat back in the 
low chair in the corner and fell deeply in love with 
Mr. Wintersloan. The three musicians in their green 
and sulphur-yellow and white made a pretty group 
in the light of the shaded lamp against the black and 
gold Broadwood, the tawdry screen, its pattern thin 
glittering upon darkness, and the deep shadows be- 
hind. Majorie loved singing, and forgot herself as 
she sang. 

"I love, and he loves me again, 

Yet dare I not tell who; 
For if the nymphs should know my swain, 
I fear they'd love him too," 

she sang, and Mr. Magnet could not conceal the 
intensity of his admiration. 

Mr. Pope had fallen into a pleasant musing; 
several other ripe old yarns, dear delicious old things, 
had come into his mind that he feut he might pres- 
ently recall when this unavoidable display of accom- 
plishments was overpast, and it was with one of them 
almost on his lips that he glanced across at his guest. 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 41 

He was surprised to see Mr. Magnet's face trans- 
figured. He was sitting forward, looking up at Mar- 
jorie, and he had caught something of the expression 
of those blessed boys who froth at the feet of an 
Assumption. For an instant Mr. Pope did not 
understand. 

Then he understood. It was Marjorie! He had 
a twinge of surprise, and glanced at his own daugh- 
ter as though he had never seen her before. He per- 
ceived in a flash for the first time that this trouble- 
some, clever, disrespectful child was tall and shapely 
and sweet, and indeed quite a beautiful young 
woman. He forgot his anecdotes. His being was 
suffused with pride and responsibility and the sense 
of virtue rewarded. He did not reflect for a moment 
that Marjorie embodied in almost equal proportions 
the very best points in his mother and his mother-in- 
law, and avoided his own more salient characteristics 
with so neat a dexterity that from top to toe, except 
for the one matter of colour, not only did she not 
resemble him but she scarcely even alluded to him. 
He thought simply that she was his daughter, that 
she derived from him, that her beauty was his. She 
was the outcome of his meritorious preparations. He 
recalled all the moments when he had been kind and 
indulgent to her, all the bills he had paid for her ; all 
the stresses and trials of the coachbuilding collapse, 
all the fluctuations of his speculative adventures, 
became things he had faced patiently and valiantly 
for her sake. He forgot the endless times when he 
had been viciously cross with her, all the times when 
he had pished and tushed and sworn in her hearing. 
He had on provocation and in spite of her mother's 
protests slapped her pretty vigorously, but such 
things are better forgotten ; nor did he recall how 
bitterly he had opposed the college education which 



42 MARRIAGE 

had made her now so clear in eye and thought, nor 
the frightful shindy, only three months since, about 
that identical green dress in which she now stood 
delightful. He forgot these petty details, as an 
idealist should. There she was, his daughter. An 
immense benevolence irradiated his soul for Mar- 
jorie for Magnet. His eyes were suffused with a 
not ignoble tenderness. The man, he knew, was 
worth at least thirty-five thousand pounds, a discus- 
sion of investments had made that clear, and he must 
be making at least five thousand a year! A beauti- 
ful girl, a worthy man ! A good fellow, a sound good 
fellow, a careful fellow too as these fellows went ! 

Old Daddy would lose his treasure of course. 

Well, a father must learn resignation, and he for 
one would not stand in the way of his girl's happi- 
ness. A day would come when, very beautifully and 
tenderly, he would hand her over to Magnet, his 
favourite daughter to his trusted friend. " Well, 

my boy, there's no one in all the world " he 

would begin. 

It would be a touching parting. " Don't forget 
jour old father, Maggots," he would say. At such a 
moment that quaint nickname would surely not be 
resented. . . . 

He reflected how much he had always preferred 
Marjorie to Daffy. She was brighter mare like 
him. Daffy was unresponsive, with a touch of bit- 
terness under her tongue. . . . 

He was already dreaming he was a widower, 
rather infirm, the object of Magnet's and Marjorie v s 
devoted care, when the song ceased, and the wife he 
had for the purpose of reveries just consigned so 
carelessly to the cemetery proposed that they should 
have a little game that every one could play at. A 
number of pencils and slips of paper appeared in her 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 43 

hands. She did not want the girls to exhaust their 
repertory on this first occasion and besides, Mr. 
Pope liked games in which one did things with pen- 
cils and strips of paper. Mr. Magnet wished the 
singing to go on, he said, but he was overruled. 

So for a time every one played a little game in 
which Mr. Pope was particularly proficient. Indeed, 
it was rare that any one won but Mr. Pope. It was 
called " The Great Departed," and it had such con- 
siderable educational value that all the children had 
to play at it whenever he wished. 

It was played in this manner; one of the pseudo 
twins opened a book and dabbed a finger on the page, 
and read out the letter immediately at the tip of her 
finger, then all of them began to write as hard as they 
could, writing down the names of every great person 
they could think of, whose name began with that 
letter. At the end of five minutes Mr. Pope said 
Stop! and then began to read his list out, beginning 
with the first name. Everybody who had that name 
crossed it out and scored one, and after his list was 
exhausted all the surviving names on the next list were 
read over in the same way, and so on. The names 
had to be the names of dead celebrated people, only 
one monarch of the same name of the same dynasty 
was allowed, and Mr. Pope adjudicated on all doubt- 
ful cases. It was great fun. 

The first two games were won as usual by Mr. 
Pope, and then Mr. Wintersloan, who had been a 
little distraught in his manner, brightened up and 
scribbled furiously. 

The letter was Z>, and after Mr. Pope had re- 
hearsed a tale of nine and twenty names, Mr. Win- 
tersloan read out his list in that curious voice of his 
which suggested nothing so much as some mobile 
drink glucking out of the neck of a bottle held upside 
down. 



44 MARRIAGE 

" Dahl," he began. 

" Who was Dahl?" asked Mr. Pope. 

" 'Vented dahlias," said Mr. Wintersloan, with a 
sigh. " Danton." 

" Forgot him," said Mr. Pope. 

Davis." 

"Davis?" 

"Davis Straits. Doe." 

"Who?" 

" John Doe, Richard Roe." 

" Legal fiction, I'm afraid," said Mr. Pope. 

" Dam," said Mr. Wintersloan, and added after 
a slight pause : " Anthony van." 

Mr. Pope made an interrogative noise. 

" Painter eighteenth century Dutch. Dam, Jan 
van, his son. Dam, Frederich van. Dam, Wilhelm 
van. Dam, Diedrich van. Dam, Wilhelmina, wood 
engraver, gifted woman. Diehl." 

"Who?" 

" Painter dead famous. See Diisseldorf. It's 
all painters now all guaranteed dead, all good men. 
Deeds of Norfolk, the aquarellist, Denton, Dibbs." 

"Er?" said Mr. Pope. 

" The Warwick Claude, you know. Died 1823." 

" Dickson, Dunting, John Dickery. Peter Dick- 
ery, William Dock I beg your pardon ?" 

Mr. Pope was making a protesting gesture, but 
Mr. Wintersloan's bearing was invincible, and he 
proceeded. 

In the end ne emerged triumphant with forty- 
nine names, mostly painters for whose fame he 
answered, but whose reputations were certainly new 
to every one else present. "I can go on like that," 
said Mr. Wintersloan, " with any letter," and turn- 
ed that hard little smile full on Marjorie. " I didn't 
see how to do it at first. I just cast about. But I 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 45 

know a frightful lot of painters. No end. Shall we 
try again?" 

Marjorie glancea at her father. Mr. Winter- 
sloan's methods were all too evictent to her. A 
curious feeling pervaded the room that Mr. Pope 
didn't think Mr. Wintersloan's conduct honourable, 
and that he might even go some way towards saying 
so. 

So Mrs. Pope became very brisk and stirring, and 
said she thought that now perhaps a charade would 
be more amusing. It didn't do to keep on at a game 
too long. She asked Rom and Daphne and Theodore 
and Mr. Wintersloan to go out, and they all agreed 
readily, particularly Rom. " Come on !" said Rom 
to Mr. Wintersloan. Everybody else shifted into an 
audience-like group between the piano and the what- 
not. Mr. Magnet sat at Marjorie's feet, while Syd 
played a kind of voluntary, and Mr. Pope leant back 
in his chair, with his brows knit and lips moving, 
trying to remember something. 

The charade was very amusing. The word was 
Catarrh, and Mr. Wintersloan, as the patient in the 
last act being given gruel, surpassed even the chil- 
dren's very high expectations. Rom, as his nurse,, 
couldn't keep her hands off him. Then the younger 
people kissed round and were packed off to bed, and 
the rest of the party went to the door upon the lawn 
and admired the night. It was a glorious summer 
night, deep blue, and rimmed warmly by the after- 
glow, moonless, and with a few big lamp-like stars 
above the black still shapes of trees. 

Mrs. Pope said they would all accompany their 
guests to the gate at the end of the avenue in spite 
of the cockchafers. 

Mr. Pope's ankle, however, excused him ; the cor- 
diality of his parting from Mr. Wintersloan seemed 



46 MARRIAGE 

a trifle forced, and he limped thoughtfully and a 
little sombrely towards the study to see if he could 
find an Encyclopaedia or some such book of reference 
that would give the names of the lesser lights of 
Dutch, Italian, and English painting during the last 
two centuries. 

He felt that Mr. Wintersloan had established an 
extraordinarily bad precedent. 



10 

Marjorie discovered that she and Mr. Magnet had 
fallen a little behind the others. She would have 
quickened her pace, but Mr. Magnet stopped short 
and said: "Marjorie! 

" When I saw you standing there and singing," 
said Mr. Magnet, and was short of breath for a 
moment. 

Marjorie's natural gift for interruption failed 
her altogether. 

" I felt I would rather be able to call you mine 
than win an empire." 

The pause seemed to lengthen, between them, and 
Marjorie's remark when she made it at last struck her 
even as she made it as being but poorly conceived. 
She had some weak idea of being self-depreciatory. 

" I think you had better win an empire, Mr. 
Magnet," she said meekly. 

Then, before anything more was possible, they 
had come up to Daffy and Mr. Wintersloan and her 
mother at the gate . . . 

As they returned Mrs. Pope was loud in the 
praises of Will Magnet. She had a little clear-cut 
voice, very carefully and very skilfully controlled, 
and she dilated on his modesty, his quiet helpfulness 



A DAY WITH THE POPES 47 

at table, his ready presence of mind. She pointed 
out instances of those admirable traits, incidents 
small in themselves but charming in their implica- 
tions. When somebody wanted junket, he had made 
no fuss, he had just helped them to junket. " So 
modest and unassuming," sang Mrs. Pope. "You'd 
never dream he was quite rich and famous. Yet 
every book he writes is translated into Russian and 
German and all sorts of languages. I suppose he's 
almost the greatest humorist we have. That play of 
his ; what is it called ? Our Owd Woman has been 
performed nearly twelve hundred times ! I think that 
is the most wonderful of gifts. Think of the people 
it has made happy." 

The conversation was mainly monologue. Both 
Marjorie and Daffy were unusually thoughtful. 



" 

Marjorie ended the long day in a worldly mood. 

" Penny for your thoughts," said Daffy abruptly, 
brushing the long firelit rapids of her hair. 

" Not for sale," said Marjorie, and roused her- 
self. " I've had a long day." 

" It's always just the time I particularly wish I 
was a man," she remarked after a brief return to 
meditation. " Fancy, no hair-pins, no brushing, no 
tie-up to get lost about, no strings. I suppose they 
haven't strings?" 

" They haven't," said Daffy with conviction. 

She met Marjorie's interrogative eye. " Father 
would swear at them," she explained. " He'd natur- 
ally tie himself up and we should hear of it." 

" I didn't think of that," said Marjorie, and stuck 
out her chin upon her fists. " Sound induction." 



48 MARRIAGE 

She forgot this transitory curiosity. 

" Suppose one had a maid, Daffy a real maid 
. . . a maid who mended your things . . . did 
your hair while you read. . . . * 

" Oh ! here goes," and she stood up and grappled 
with tfce task of undressing. 



CHAPTER THE SECOND 

THE Two PROPOSALS OF ME. MAGNET 

1 

IT was presently quite evident to Mar j one that Mr. 
Magnet intended to propose marriage to her, and 
she did not even know whether she wanted him to do 
so. 

She had met him first the previous summer while 
she had been staying with the Petley-Cresthams at 
High Windower, and it had been evident that he found 
her extremely attractive. She had never had a real 
grown man at her feet before, and she had found it 
amazingly entertaining. She had gone for a walk 
with him the morning before she came away a frank 
and ingenuous proceeding that made Mrs. Petley- 
Crestham say the girl knew what she was about, and 
she had certainly coquetted with him in an extraordi- 
nary manner at golf-croquet. After that Oxbridge 
had swallowed her up, and though he had called once 
on her mother while Marjorie was in London during 
the Christmas vacation, he hadn't seen her again. He 
had written which was exciting a long friendly 
humorous letter about nothing in particular, with nn 
air of its being quite the correct thing for him to do, 
and she had answered, and there had been other ex- 
changes. But all sorts of things had happened *n 
the interval, and Marjorie had let him get into quite 
a back place in her thoughts the fact that he was 
a member of her father's club had seemed somehow 
to remove him from a great range of possibilities 
until a drift in her mother's talk towards him and a 
letter from him with an indefinable change in tone 

49 



50 MARRIAGE 

towards intimacy, had restored him to importance. 
Now here he was in the foreground of her world again, 
evidently more ardent than ever, and with a porten- 
tous air of being about to do something decisive at 
the very first opportunity. What was he going to 
do? What had her mother been hinting at? And 
what, in fact, did the whole thing amount to? 

Marjorie was beginning to realize that this was 
going to be a very serious affair indeed for her and 
that she was totally unprepared to meet it. 

It had been very amusing, very amusing indeed, at 
the Petley-Cresthams', but there were moments now 
when she felt towards Mr. Magnet exactly as she 
would have felt if he had been one of the Oxbridge 
tradesmen hovering about her with a " little account," 
full of apparently exaggerated items. . . . 

Her thoughts and feelings were all in confusion 
about this business. Her mind was full of scraps, 
every sort of idea, every sort of attitude contributed 
something to that Twentieth Century jumble. For 
example, and so far as its value went among motives, 
it was by no means a trivial consideration ; she wanted 
a proposal for its own sake. Daffy had had a pro- 
posal last year, and although it wasn't any sort of 
eligible proposal, still there it was, and she had given 
herself tremendous airs. But Marjorie would cer- 
tainly have preferred some lighter kind of proposal 
than that which now threatened her. She felt that 
behind Mr. Magnet were sanctions; that she wasn't 
free to deal with this proposal as she liked. He was 
at Buryhamstreet almost with the air of being her 
parents' guest. 

Less clear and more instinctive than her desire for 
a proposal was her inclination to see just all that Mr. 
Magnet was disposed to do, and hear all that he was 
disposed to say. She was curious. He didn't behave 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 51 

hi the least as she had expected a lover to behave. 
But then none of the boys, the " others " with whom 
she had at times stretched a hand towards the hem of 
emotion, had ever done that. She had an obscure 
feeling that perhaps presently Mr. Magnet must light 
up, be stirred and stirring. Even now his voice 
changed very interestingly when he was alone with 
her. His breath seemed to go as though something 
had pricked his lung. If it hadn't been for that new, 
disconcerting realization of an official pressure behind 
him, I think she would have been quite ready to ex- 
periment extensively with his emotions. . . . 

But she perceived as she lay awake next morning 
that she wasn't free for experiments any longer. 
What she might say or do now would be taken up very 
conclusively. And she had no idea what she wanted 
to say or do. 

Marriage regarded in the abstract that is to 
say, with Mr. Magnet out of focus was by no means 
an unattractive proposal to her. It was very much 
at the back of Marjorie's mind that after Oxbridge, 
unless she was prepared to face a very serious row 
indeed and go to teach in a school and she didn't 
feel any call whatever to teach in a school she would 
probably have to return to Hartstone Square and 
thare Daffy's room again, and assist in the old col- 
lective, wearisome task of propitiating her father. 
The freedoms of Oxbridge had enlarged her imagi- 
nation until that seemed an almost unendurably irk- 
some prospect. She had tasted life as it could be in 
her father's absence, and she was beginning to realize 
just what an impossible person he was. Marriage 
was escape from all that ; it meant not only respect- 
ful parents but a house of her very own, furniture of 
her choice, great freedom of movement, an authority, 
an importance. She had seen what it meant to be a 



52 MARRIAGE 

prosperously married young woman in the person of 
one or two resplendent old girls revisiting Bennett 
College, scattering invitations, offering protections 
and opportunities. . . . 

Of course there is love. 

Marjorie told herself, as she had been trained to 
tell herself, to be sensible, but something within her 
repeated: there is love. 

Of course she liked Mr. Magnet. She really did 
like Mr. Magnet very much. She had had her girlish 
dreams, had fallen in love with pictures of men and 
actors and a music master and a man who used to 
ride by as she went to school; but wasn't this deso- 
lating desire for self-abandonment rather silly? 
something that one left behind with much else when 
it came to putting up one's hair and sensible living, 
something to blush secretly about and hide from every 
eye? 

Among other discrepant views that lived together 
in her mind as cats and rats and parrots and squirrels 
and so forth used to live together in those Happy 
Family cages unseemly men in less well-regulated days 
were wont to steer about our streets, was one instilled 
by quite a large proportion of the novels she had read, 
that a girl was a sort of self-giving prize for high 
moral worth. Mr. Magnet she knew was good, was 
kind, was brave with that truer courage, moral cour- 
age, which goes with his type of physique; he was 
modest, unassuming, well off and famous, and very 
much in love with her. His True Self, as Mrs. Pope 
had pointed out several times, must be really very 
beautiful, and in some odd way a line of Shakespeare 
had washed up in her consciousness as being somehow 
effectual on his behalf: 

" Love looks not with the eye but with the mind." 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 53 

She felt she ought to look with the mind. Nice 
people surely never looked in any other way. It 
seemed from this angle almost her duty to love 
him. . . . 

Perhaps she did love him, and mistook the symp- 
toms. She did her best to mistake the symptoms. 
But if she did truly love him, would it seem so queer 
and important and antagonistic as it did that his 
hair was rather thin upon the crown of his head ? 

She wished she hadn't looked down on him. . . . 

Poor Marjorie! She was doing her best to be 
sensible, and she felt herself adrift above a clamorous 
abyss of feared and forbidden thoughts. Down there 
she knew well enough it wasn't thus that love must 
come. Deep in her soul, the richest thing in her life 
indeed and the best thing she had to give humanity, 
was a craving for beauty that at times became almost 
intolerable, a craving for something other than beauty 
and yet inseparably allied with it, a craving for deep 
excitement, for a sort of glory in adventure, for pas- 
sion for things akin to great music and heroic poems 
and bannered traditions of romance. She had hidden 
away in her an immense tumultuous appetite for life, 
an immense tumultuous capacity for living. To be 
loved beautifully was surely the crown and climax of 
her being. 

She did not dare to listen to these deeps, yet these 
insurgent voices filled her. Even while she drove her 
little crocodile of primly sensible thoughts to their 
sane appointed conclusion, her blood and nerves and 
all her being were protesting that Mr. Magnet would 
not do, that whatever other worthiness was in him, 
regarded as a lover he was preposterous and flat and 
foolish and middle-aged, and that it were better never 
to have lived than to put the treasure of her life to 
his meagre lips and into his hungry, unattractive 



54 MARRIAGE 

arms. " The ugliness of it ! The spiritless horror of 
it !" so dumbly and formlessly the rebel voices urged. 

" One has to be sensible," said Marjorie to herself, 
suddenly putting down Shaw's book on Municipal 
Trading, which she imagined she had been read- 
ing. . . . 

( Perhaps all marriage was horrid, and one had to 
get over it.) 

That was rather what her mother had conveyed 
to her. 



Mr. Magnet made his first proposal in form three 
days later, after coming twice to tea and staying on 
to supper. He had played croquet with Mr. Pope, 
he had been beaten twelve times in spite of twinges in 
the sprained ankle heroically borne had had three 
victories lucidly explained away, and heard all the 
particulars of the East Purblow experiment three 
times over, first in relation to the new Labour Ex- 
changes, then regarded at rather a different angle in 
relation to female betting, tally-men, and the sancti- 
ties of the home generally, and finally in a more 
exhaustive style, to show its full importance from 
every side and more particularly as demonstrating the 
gross injustice done to Mr. Pope by the neglect of its 
lessons, a neglect too systematic to be accidental, in 
the social reform literature of the time. Moreover, 
Mr. Magnet had been made to understand thoroughly 
how several later quasi-charitable attempts of a simi- 
lar character had already become, or must inevitably 
become, unsatisfactory through their failure to fol- 
low exactly in the lines laid down by Mr. Pope. 

Mr. Pope was really very anxious to be pleasant 
and agreeable to Mr. Magnet, and he could think of 
no surer way of doing so than by giving him an 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 55 

unrestrained intimacy of conversation that prevented 
anything more than momentary intercourse between 
his daughter and her admirer. And not only did Mr. 
Magnet find it difficult to get away from Mr. Pope 
without offence, but whenever by any chance Mr. 
Pope was detached for a moment Mr. Magnet discov- 
ered that Marjorie either wasn't to be seen, or if she 
was she wasn't to be isolated by any device he could 
contrive, before the unappeasable return of Mr. Pope. 

Mr. Magnet did not get his chance therefore until 
Lady Petchworth's little gathering at Summerhay 
Park. 

Lady Petchworth was Mrs. Pope's oldest friend, 
and one of those brighter influences which save our 
English country-side from lassitude. She had been 
more fortunate than Mrs. Pope, for while Mr. Pope 
with that aptitude for disadvantage natural to his 
temperament had, he said, been tied to a business that 
never gave him a chance, Lady Petchworth's husband 
had been a reckless investor of exceptional good-luck. 
In particular, led by a dream, he had put most of his 
money into a series of nitrate deposits in caves in 
Saghalien haunted by benevolent penguins, and had 
been rewarded beyond the dreams of avarice. His 
foresight had received the fitting reward of a knight- 
hood, and Sir Thomas, after restoring the Parish 
Church at Summerhay in a costly and destructive 
manner, spent his declining years in an enviable con- 
tentment with Lady Petchworth and the world at 
large, and died long before infirmity made him really 
troublesome. 

Good fortune had brought out Lady Petchworth's 
social aptitudes. Summerhay Park was everything 
that a clever woman, inspired by that gardening 
literature which has been so abundant in the opening 
years of the twentieth century, could make it. It had 



56 MARRIAGE 

rosaries and rock gardens, sundials and yew hedges, 
pools and ponds, lead figures and stone urns, box 
borderings and wilderness corners and hundreds and 
hundreds of feet of prematurely-aged red-brick wall 
with broad herbaceous borders ; the walks had prim- 
roses, primulas and cowslips in a quite disingenuous 
abundance, and in spring the whole extent of the park 
was gay, here with thousands of this sort of daffodil 
just bursting out and here with thousands of that sort 
of narcissus just past its prime, and every patch 
ready to pass itself off in its naturalized way as the 
accidental native flower of the field, if only it hadn't 
been for all the other different varieties coming on or 
wilting-off in adjacent patches. . . . 

Her garden was only the beginning of Lady 
Petchworth's activities. She had a model dairy, and 
all her poultry was white, and so far as she was able 
to manage it she made Summerhay a model village. 
She overflowed with activities, it was astonishing in 
one so plump and blonde, and meeting followed meet- 
ing in the artistic little red-brick and green-stained 
timber village hall she had erected. Now it was the 
National Theatre and now it was the National 
Mourning; now it was the Break Up of the Poor 
Law, and now the Majority Report, now the Moth- 
ers' Union, and now Socialism, and now Individual- 
ism, but always something progressive and beneficial. 
She did her best to revive the old village life, and 
brought her very considerable powers of compulsion 
to make the men dance in simple old Morris dances, 
dressed up in costumes they secretly abominated, 
and to induce the mothers to dress their children in 
art-coloured smocks instead of the prints and blue 
serge frocks they preferred. She did not despair, 
she said, of creating a spontaneous peasant art 
movement in the district, springing from the people 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 57 

and expressing the people, but so far it had been 
necessary to import not only instructors and ma- 
terial, but workers to keep the thing going, so slug- 
gish had the spontaneity of our English countryside 
become. 

Her little gatherings were quite distinctive of her. 
They were a sort of garden party extending from 
midday to six or seven ; there would be a nucleus of 
house guests, and the highways and byeways on 
every hand would be raided to supply persons and 
interests. She had told her friend to "bring the 
girls over for the day," and flung an invitation to 
Mr. Pope, who had at once excused himself on the 
score of his ankle. Mr. Pope was one of those men 
who shun social gatherings ostensibly because of a 
sterling simplicity of taste, but really because his 
intolerable egotism made him feel slighted and ne- 
glected on these occasions. He told his wife he 
would be far happier with a book at home, exhorted 
her not to be late, and was seen composing himself 
to read the " Vicar of Wakefield " whenever they 
published a new book Mr. Pope pretended to read 
an old one as the hired waggonette took the rest of 
his family Theodore very unhappy in buff silk and 
a wide Stuart collar down the avenue. 

They found a long lunch table laid on the lawn 
beneath the chestnuts, and in full view of the pop- 
pies and forget-me-nots around the stone obelisk, a 
butler and three men servants with brass buttons and 1 
red and white striped waistcoats gave dignity to the 
scene, and beyond, on the terrace amidst abundance 
of deckchairs, cane chairs, rugs, and cushions, a 
miscellaneous and increasing company seethed under 
Lady Petchworth's plump but entertaining hand. 
There were, of course, Mr. Magnet, and his friend 
Mr. Wintersloan Lady Petchworth had been given 



58 MARRIAGE 

to understand how the land lay; and there was Mr. 
Bunford Paradise the musician, who was doing his 
best to teach a sullen holiday class in the village 
schoolroom to sing the artless old folk songs of Sur- 
rey again, in spite of the invincible persuasion of 
everybody in the class that the songs were rather 
indelicate and extremely silly; there were the Rev. 
Jopling Baynes, and two Cambridge undergraduates 
in flannels, and a Doctor something or other from 
London. There was also the Hon. Charles Muskett, 
Lord Pottinger's cousin and estate agent, in tweeds 
and very helpful. The ladies included Mrs. Raff, 
the well-known fashion writer, in a wonderful cos- 
tume, the anonymous doctor's wife, three or four 
neighbouring mothers with an undistinguished 
daughter or so, and two quiet-mannered middle-aged 
ladies, whose names Marjorie could not catch, and 
whom Lady Petchworth, in that well-controlled 
voice of hers, addressed as Kate and Julia, and seem- 
ed on the whole disposed to treat as humorous. 
There was also Fraulein Schmidt in charge of Lady 
Petchworth's three tall and already abundant chil- 
dren, Prunella, Prudence, and Mary, and a young, 
newly-married couple of cousins, who addressed each 
other in soft undertones and sat apart. These were 
the chief items that became distinctive in Marjorie's 
survey ; but there were a number of other people who 
seemed to come and go, split up, fuse, change their 
appearance slightly, and behave in the way inade- 
quately apprehended people do behave on these 
occasions. 

Marjorie very speedily found her disposition to 
take a detached! and amused view of the entertain- 
ment in conflict with more urgent demands. From 
the outset Mr. Magnet loomed upon her he loomed 
nearer and nearer. He turned his eye upon her as 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 59 

she came up to the wealthy expanse of Lady Fetch- 
worth's presence, like some sort of obsolescent iron- 
clad turning a dull-grey, respectful, loving search- 
light upon a fugitive torpedo boat, and thereafter 
he seemed to her to be looking at her without inter- 
mission, relentlessly, and urging himself towards 
her. She wished he wouldn't. She hadn't at all 
thought he would on this occasion. 

At first she relied upon her natural powers of 
evasion, and the presence of a large company. Then 
gradually it became apparent that Lady Petchworth 
and her mother, yes and the party generally, and 
the gardens and the weather and the stars in their 
courses were of a mind to co-operate in giving oppor- 
tunity for Mr. Magnet's unmistakable intentions. 

And Marjorie with that instability of her sex 
which has been a theme for masculine humour in all 
ages, suddenly and with an extraordinary violence 
didn't want to make up her mind about Mr. Magnet. 
She didn't want to accept him ; and as distinctly she 
didn't want to refuse him. She didn't even want to 
be thought about as making up her mind about him 
which was, so to speak, an enlargement of her 
previous indisposition. She didn't even want to seem 
to avoid him, or to be thinking about him, or aware 
of his existence. 

After the greeting of Lady Petchworth she had 
succeeded very clumsily in not seeing Mr. Magnet, 
and had addressed herself to Mr. Wintersloan, who 
was standing a little apart, looking under his hand, 
with one eye shut, at the view between the tree stems 
towards Buryhamstreet. He told her that he 
thought he had found something " pooty " that 
hadn't been done, and she did her best to share his 
artistic interests with a vivid sense of Mr. Magnet's 
tentative incessant approach behind her. 



60 MARRIAGE 

He joined them, and she made a desperate at- 
tempt to entangle Mr. Wintersloan in a three-cor- 
nered talk in vain. He turned away at the first 
possible opportunity, and left her to an embarrassed 
and eloquently silent tete-a-tete. Mr. Magnet's 
professional wit had deserted him. " It's nice to see 
you again," he said after an immense interval. 
*' Shall we go and look at the aviary ?" 

" I hate to see birds in cages," said Marjorie, 
" and it's frightfully jolly just here. Do you think 
Mr. Wintersloan will paint this? He does paint, 
doesn't he?" 

" I know him best in black and white," said Mr. 
Magnet. 

Marjorie embarked on entirely insincere praises 
of Mr. Wintersloan's manner and personal effect; 
Magnet replied tepidly, with an air of reserving 
himself to grapple with the first conversational op- 
portunity. 

" It's a splendid day for tennis," said Marjorie. 
" I think I shall play tennis all the afternoon." 

" I don't play well enough for this publicity." 

" It's glorious exercise," said Marjorie. " Almost 
as good as dancing," and she decided to stick to that 
resolution. " I never lose a chance of tennis if I can 
help it." 

She glanced round and detected a widening space 
between themselves and the next adjacent group. 

" They're looking at the goldfish," she said. " Let 
us join them." 

Everyone moved away as they came up to the 
little round pond, but then Marjorie had luck, and 
captured Prunella, and got her to hold hands and 
talk, until Fraulein Schmidt called the child away. 
And then Marjorie forced Mr. Magnet to introduce 
her to Mr. Bunford Paradise. She had a bright idea 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 61 

of sitting between Prunella and Mary at the lunch 
table, but a higher providence had assigned her to 
a seat at the end between Julia or was it Kate? 
and Mr. Magnet. However, one of the undergrad- 
uates was opposite, and she saved herself from 
undertones by talking across to him boldly about 
Newnham, though she hadn't an idea of his name or 
college. From that she came to tennis. To her 
inflamed imagination he behaved as if she was under 
a Taboo, but she was desperate, and had pledged 
him and his friend to a foursome before the meal was 
over. 

" Don't you play?" said the undergraduate to 
Mr. Magnet. 

" Very little," said Mr. Magnet. " Very little" 

At the end of an hour she was conspicuously and 
publicly shepherded from the tennis court by Mrs. 
Pope. 

" Other people want to play," said her mother in 
a clear little undertone. 

Mr. Magnet fielded her neatly as she came off the 
court. 

" You play tennis like a wild bird," he said, 
taking possession of her. 

Only Marjorie's entire freedom from Irish blood 
saved him from a vindictive repartee. 

3 

" Shall we go and look at the aviary?" said Mr. 
Magnet, reverting to a favourite idea of his, and 
then remembered she did not like to see caged birds. 

" Perhaps we might see the Water Garden ?" he 
said. " The Water Garden is really very delightful 
indeed anyhow. You ought to see that." 

On the spur of the moment, Marjorie could think 
of no objection to the Water Garden, and he led 
her off. 



62 MARRIAGE 

" I often think of that jolly walk we had last 
summer," said Mr. Magnet, " and how you talked 
about your work at Oxbridge." 

Marjorie fell into a sudden rapture of admira- 
tion for a butterfly. 

Twice more was Mr. Magnet baffled, and then 
they came to the little pool of water lilies with its 
miniature cascade of escape at the head and source of 
the Water Garden. " One of Lady Petchworth's 
great successes," said Mr. Magnet. 

" I suppose the lotus is like the water-lily," said 
Marjorie, with no hope of staving off the inevit- 
able 

She stood very still by the little pool, and in 
spite of her pensive regard of the floating blossoms, 
stiffly and intensely aware of his relentless regard. 

" Marjorie," came his voice at last, strangely 
softened. " There is something I want to say to 



you." 



She made no reply. 

" Ever since we met last summer- 



A clear cold little resolution not to stand this, 
had established itself in Marjorie's mind. If she 
must decide, she would decide. He had brought it 
upon himself. 

" Marjorie," said Mr. Magnet, " I love you." 

She lifted a clear unhesitating eye to his face. 
" I'm sorry, Mr. Magnet," she said. 

" I wanted to ask you to marry me," he said. 

" I'm sorry, Mr. Magnet," she repeated 1 . 

They looked at one another. She felt a sort of 
scared exultation at having done it; her mother 
might say what she liked. 

" I love you very much," he said, at a loss. 

" I'm sorry," she repeated obstinately. 

" I thought you cared for me a little," 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 63 

She left that unanswered. She had a curious 
feeling that there was no getting away from this 
splashing, babbling pool, that she was fixed there 
until Mr. Magnet chose to release her, and that he 
didn't mean to release her yet. In which case she 
would go on refusing. 

" I'm disappointed," he said. 

Marjorie could only think that she was sorry 
again, but as she had already said that three times, 
she remained awkwardly silent. 

" Is it because " he began and stopped. 

" It isn't because of anything. Please let's go 
back to the others, Mr. Magnet. I'm sorry if I'm 
disappointing." 

And by a great effort she turned about. 

Mr. Magnet remained regarding her I can only 
compare it to the searching preliminary gaze of an 
artistic photographer. For a crucial minute in his 
life Marjorie hated him. " I don't understand," he 
said at last. 

Then with a sort of naturalness that ought to 
have touched her he said: "Is it possible, Marjorie 
that I might hope? that I have been inoppor- 
tune?" 

She answered at once with absolute conviction. 

"I don't think so, Mr. Magnet." 

" I'm sorry," he said, " to have bothered you." 

" I'm sorry," said Marjorie. 

A long silence followed. 

" I'm sorry too," he said. 

They said no more, but began to retrace their 
steps. It was over. Abruptly, Mr. Magnet's bear- 
ing had become despondent conspicuously despond- 
ent. " I had hoped," he said, and sighed. 

With a thrill of horror Marjorie perceived he 
meant to look rejected, let every one see he had been 
rejected after encouragement. 



64 MARRIAGE 

What would 1 they think? How would they look? 
What conceivably might they not say? Something 
of the importance of the thing she had done, became 
manifest to her. She felt first intimations of regret. 
They would all be watching, Mother, Daffy, Lady 
Petchworth. She would reappear with this victim 
visibly suffering beside her. What could she say to 
straighten his back and lift his chin? She could 
think of nothing. Ahead at the end of the shaded 
path she could see the copious white form, the agi- 
tated fair wig and red sunshade of Lady Petch- 
worth 



Mrs. Pope's eye was relentless; nothing seemed 
hidden from it; nothing indeed was hidden from it; 
Mr. Magnet's back was diagrammatic. Marjorie 
was a little flushed and bright-eyed, and professed 
herself eager, with an unnatural enthusiasm, to play 
golf-croquet. It was eloquently significant that Mr. 
Magnet did not share her eagerness, declined to play, 
and yet when she had started with the Rev. Jopling 
Baynes as partner, stood regarding the game with a 
sort of tender melancholy from the shade of the big 
chestnut-tree. 

Mrs. Pope joined him unobtrusively. 

" You're not playing, Mr. Magnet," she re- 
marked. 

" I'm a looker-on, this time," he said with a sigh. 

" Marjorie's winning, I think," said Mrs. Pope. 

He made no answer for some seconds. 

" She looks so charming in that blue dress," he 
remarked at last, and sighed from the lowest deeps. 

" That bird's-egg blue suits her," said Mrs. Pope, 
ignoring the sigh. " She's clever in her girlish way, 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 65 

she chooses all her own dresses, colours, material, 
everything." 

(And also, though Mrs. Pope had not remarked 
it, she concealed her bills.) 

There came a still longer interval, which Mrs. 
Pope ended with the slightest of shivers. She per- 
ceived Mr. Magnet was heavy for sympathy and 
ripe to confide. " I think," she said, " it's a little 
cool here. Shall we walk to the Water Garden, and 
see if there are any white lilies?" 

" There are," said Mr. Magnet sorrowfully, 
" and they are very Beautiful quite beautiful." 

He turned to the path along which he had so 
recently led Marjorie. 

He glanced back as they went along between 
Lady Petchworth's herbaceous border and the poppy 
beds. " She's so full of life," he said, with a sigh 
in his voice. 

Mrs. Pope knew she must keep silent. 

" I asked her to marry me this afternoon," Mr. 
Magnet blurted out. " I couldn't help it." 

Mrs. Pope made her silence very impressive. 

" I know I ought not to have done so without 
consulting you " he went on lamely ; " I'm very 
much in love with her. It's It's done no harm." 

Mrs. Pope's voice was soft and low. " I had no 
idea, Mr. Magnet. . . . You know she is very 
young. Twenty. A mother " 

" I know," saio? Magnet. " I can quite under- 
stand. But I've done no harm. She refused me. I 
shall go away to-morrow. Go right away for ever. 
, . . I'm sorry." 

Another long silence. 

" To me, of course, she's just a child," Mrs. Pope 
said at last. " She is only a child, Mr. Magnet. She 



66 MARRIAGE 

could have had no idea that anything of the sort was 
in your mind " 

Her words floated away into the stillness. 

For a time they said no more. The lilies came 
into sight, dreaming under a rich green shade on a 
limpid pool of brown water, water that slept and 
brimmed over as it were, unconsciously into a cool 
splash and ripple of escape. " How beautiful !" 
cried Mrs. Pope, for a moment genuine. 

" I spoke to her here," said Mr. Magnet. 

The fountains of his confidence were unloosed. 

"Now I've spoken to you about it, Mrs. Pope," 
he said, " I can tell you just how I oh, it's the only 
word adore her. She seems so sweet and easy so 
graceful " 

Mrs. Pope turned on him abruptly, and grasped 
his hands ; she was deeply moved. " I can't tell 
you," she said, " what it means to a mother to hear 
such things " 

Words failed her, and for some moments they 
engaged in a mutual pressure. 

" Ah !" said Mr. Magnet, and had a queer wish 
it was the mother he had to deal with. 

" Are you sure, Mr. Magnet," Mrs. Pope went 
on as their emotions subsided, " that she really meant 
what she said? Girls are very strange crea- 
tures " 

" She seems so clear and positive." 

" Her manner is always clear and positive." 

" Yes. I know." 

" I know she has cared for you." 

"No!" 

" A mother sees. When your name used to be 

mentioned . But these are not things to talk 

about. There is something something sacred " 

" Yes," he said. " Yes. Only Of course, 

one thing " 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 67 

Mrs. Pope seemed lost in the contemplation of 
water-lilies. 

" I wondered," said Mr. Magnet, and paused 
again. 

Then, almost breathlessly, " I wondered if there 
should be perhaps some one else?" 

She shook her head slowly. " I should know," she 
said. 

" Are you sure?" 

" I know I should know." 

" Perhaps recently?" 

" I am sure I should know. A mother's in- 
tuition " 

Memories possessed her for awhile. " A girl of 
twenty is a mass of contradictions. I can remember 
myself as if it was yesterday. Often one says no, or 
yes out of sheer nervousness. ... I am sure 
there is no other attachment " 

It occurred to her that she had said enough. 
" What a dignity that old gold-fish has !" she re- 
marked. " He waves his tail as if he were a beadle 
waving little boys out of church." 

5 

Mrs. Pope astonished Mar j one by saying nothing 
about the all too obvious event of the day for some 
time, but her manner to her second daughter on their 
way home was strangely gentle. It was as if she had 
realized for the first time that regret and unhappi- 
ness might come into that young life. After supper, 
however, she spoke. They had all gone out just 
before the children went to bed to look for the new 
moon; Daffy was showing the pseudo-twins the old 
moon in the new moon's arms, and Marjorie found 
herself standing by her mother's side. " I hope 



68 MARRIAGE 

dear," said Mrs. Pope, " that it's all for the best 
and that you've done wisely, dear." 

Marjorie was astonished and moved by her 
mother's tone. 

" It's so difficult to know what is for the best," 
Mrs. Pope went on. 

" I had to do as I did," said Marjorie. 

" I only hope you may never find you have made 
a Great Mistake, dear. He cares for you very, very 
much." 

" Oh ! we see it now !" cried Rom, " we see it now ! 
Mummy, have you seen it? Like a little old round 
ghost being nursed!" 

When Marjorie said " Good-night," Mrs. Pope 
kissed her with an unaccustomed effusion. 

It occurred to Marjorie that after all her mother 
had no selfish end to serve in this affair. 

6 

The idea that perhaps after all she had made a 
Great Mistake, the Mistake of her Life it might be, 
was quite firmly established in its place among all the 
other ideas in Marjorie's mind by the time she had 
dressed next morning. Subsequent events greatly 
intensified this persuasion. A pair of new stockings 
she had trusted sprang a bad hole as she put them 
on. She found two unmistakable bills from Ox- 
bridge beside her plate, and her father was " horrid " 
at breakfast. 

Her father, it appeared, had bought the ordinary 
shares of a Cuban railway very extensively, on the 
distinct understanding that they would improve. In 
a decent universe, with a proper respect for meritor- 
ious gentlemen, these shares would have improved 
accordingly, but the weather had seen fit to shatter 
the wisdom of Mr. Pope altogether. The sugar crop 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 69 

had collapsed, the bears were at work, and every 
morning now saw his nominal capital diminished by 
a dozen pounds or so. I do not know what Mr. Pope 
would have done if he had not had his family to help 
him bear his trouble. As it was he relieved his ten- 
sion by sending Theodore from the table for drop- 
ping a knife, telling Rom when she turned the plate 
round to pick the largest banana that she hadn't 
the self-respect of a child of five, and remarking 
sharply from behind the Times when Daffy asked 
Marjorie if she was going to sketch: " Oh, for God's 
sake don't whisper!" Then when Mrs. Pope came 
round the table and tried to take his coffee cup softly 
to refill it without troubling him, he snatched at it, 
wrenched it roughly out of her hand, and said with 
his mouth full, and strangely in the manner of a 
snarling beast : " No' ready yet. Half f oo'." 

Marjorie wanted to know why every one didn't 
get up and leave the room. She glanced at her 
mother and came near to speaking. 

And very soon she would have to come home and 
live in the midst of this again indefinitely ! 

After breakfast she went to the tumbledown sum- 
merhouse by the duckpond, and contemplated the bills 
she had not dared to open at table. One was boots, 
nearly three pounds, the other books, over seven. " I 
know that's wrong," said Marjorie, and rested her 
chin on her hand, knitted her brows and tried to 
remember the details of orders and deliveries. . . . 

Marjorie had fallen into the net prepared for 
our sons and daughters by the delicate modesty of 
the Oxbridge authorities in money matters, and she 
was, for her circumstances, rather heavily in debt. 
But I must admit that in Marjorie's nature the Ox- 
bridge conditions had found an eager and adven- 
turous streak that rendered her particularly apt to 
these temptations. 



70 MARRIAGE 

I doubt if reticence is really a virtue in a teacher. 
But this is a fearful world, and the majority of those 
who instruct our youth have the painful sensitiveness 
of the cloistered soul to this spirit of terror in things. 
The young need particularly to be told truthfully 
and fully all we know of three foundamental things : 
the first of which is God, the next their duty towards 
their neighbours in the matter of work and money, 
and the third Sex. These things, and the adequate 
why of them, and some sort of adequate how, make 
all that matters in education. But all three are ob- 
scure and deeply moving topics, topics for which the 
donnish mind has a kind of special ineptitude, and 
which it evades with the utmost skill and delicacy. 
The middle part of this evaded triad was now being 
taken up in Marjorie's case by the Oxbridge trades- 
people. 

The Oxbridge shopkeeper is peculiar among shop- 
keepers in the fact that he has to do very largely 
with shy and immature customers with an extreme 
and distinctive ignorance of most commercial things. 
They are for the most part short of cash, but with 
vague and often large probabilities of credit behind 
them, for most people, even quite straitened people, 
will pull their sons and daughters out of altogether 
unreasonable debts at the end of their university 
career; and so the Oxbridge shopkeeper becomes a 
sort of propagandist of the charms and advantages 
of insolvency. Alone among retailers he dislikes the 
sight of cash, declines it, affects to regard it as a 
coarse ignorant truncation of a budding relation- 
ship, begs to be permitted to wait. So the youngster 
just up from home discovers that money may stay 
in the pocket, be used for cab and train fares and 
light refreshments; all the rest may be had for the 
asking. Marjorie, with her innate hunger for good 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 71 

fine things, with her quite insufficient pocket-money,, 
and the irregular habits of expenditure a spasmodic- 
ally financed, hard-up home is apt to engender, fell 
very readily into this new, delightful custom of hav- 
ing it put down (whatever it happened to be). She 
had all sorts of things put down. She and the elder 
Carmel girl used to go shopping together, having 
things put down. She brightened her rooms with 
colour-prints and engravings, got herself pretty and 
becoming clothes, acquired a fitted dressing-bag 
already noted in this story, and one or two other 
trifles of the sort, revised her foot-wear, created a 
very nice little bookshelf, and although at times she 
felt a little astonished and scared at herself, reso- 
lutely refused to estimate the total of accumulated 
debt she had attained. Indeed until the bills came in 
it was impossible to do that, because, following the 
splendid example of the Carmel girl, she hadn't even 
inquired the price of quite a number of things. . . . 

She didn't dare think now of the total. She lied 
even to herself about that. She had fixed on fifty 
pounds as the unendurable maximum. " It is less 
than fifty pounds," she said, and added : " must be."" 
But something in her below the threshold of con- 
sciousness knew that it was more. 

And now she was in her third year, and the Ox- 
bridge tradesman, generally satisfied with the 
dimensions of her account, and no longer anxious to 
see it grow, was displaying the less obsequious side of 
his character. He wrote remarks at the bottom of 
his account, remarks about settlement, about having 
a bill to meet, about having something to go on with. 
He asked her to give the matter her " early atten- 
tion." She had a disagreeable persuasion that if she 
wanted many more things anywhere she would have 
to pay ready money for them. She was particularly 



72 MARRIAGE 

short of stockings. She had overlooked stockings 
recently. 

Daffy, unfortunately, was also short of stockings. 

And now, back with her family again, everything 
conspired to remind Marjorie of the old stringent 
habits from which she had had so delightful an 
interlude. She saw Daffy eye her possessions, reflect. 
This morning something of the awfulness of her 
position came to her. . . . 

At Oxbridge she had made rather a joke of her 
debts. 

" I'd swear I haven't had three pairs of house 
shoes," said Marjorie. " But what can one do?" 

And about the whole position the question was, 
" what can one do?" 

She proceeded with tense nervous movements to 
tear these two distasteful demands into very minute 
pieces. Then she collected them all together in the 
hollow of her hand, and buried them in the loose 
mould in a corner of the summer-house. 

" Madge," said Theodore, appearing in the sun- 
shine of the doorway. " Aunt Plessington's coming ! 
She's sent a wire. Someone's got to meet her by 
the twelve-forty train." 

87 

Aunt Plessington's descent was due to her sudden 
discovery that Buryhamstreet was in close proximity 
to Summerhay Park, indeed only three miles away. 
She had promised a lecture on her movement for Lady 
Petchworth's village room in Summerhay, and she 
found that with a slight readjustment of dates she 
could combine this engagement with her promised 
visit to her husband's sister, and an evening or so of 
influence for her little Madge. So she had sent Hu- 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 73 

bert to telegraph at once, and " here," she said 
triumphantly on the platform, after a hard kiss at 
Mar j one's cheek, " we are again.' 

There, at any rate, she was, and Uncle Hubert 
was up the platform seeing after the luggage, in his 
small anxious way. 

Aunt Plessington was a tall lean woman, with firm 
features, a high colour and a bright eye, who wore 
hats to show she despised them, and carefully dis- 
hevelled hair. Her dress was always good, but ex- 
tremely old and grubby, and she commanded respect 
chiefly by her voice. Her voice was the true govern- 
ing-class voice, a strangulated contralto, abundant 
and authoritative; it made everything she said clear 
and important, so that if she said it was a fine morn- 
ing it was like leaded print in the Times, and she had 
over her large front teeth lips that closed quietly 
and with a slight effort after her speeches, as if the 
words she spoke tasted well and left a peaceful, 
secure sensation in the mouth. 

Uncle Hubert was a less distinguished figure, and 
just a little reminiscent of the small attached hus- 
bands one finds among the lower Crustacea: he was 
much shorter and rounder than his wife, and if he 
had been left to himself, he would probably have been 
comfortably fat in his quiet little way. But Aunt 
Plessington had made him a Haigite, which is one of 
the fiercer kinds of hygienist, just in the nick of time. 
He had round shoulders, a large nose, and glasses 
that made him look astonished and she said he had 
a great gift for practical things, and made him see 
after everything in that line while she did the lec- 
turing. His directions to the porter finished, he came 
up to his niece. "Hello, Marjorie!" he said, in a 
peculiar voice that sounded as though his mouth was 



74 MARRIAGE 

full (though of course, poor dear, it wasn't), 
" how's the First Class?" 

" A second's good enough for me, Uncle Hubert," 
said Marjorie, and asked if they would rather walk 
or go in the donkey cart, which was waiting outside 
with Daffy. Aunt Plessington, with an air of great 
bonhomie said she'd ride in the donkey cart, and they 
did. But no pseudo-twins or Theodore came to meet 
this arrival, as both uncle and aunt had a way of 
asking how the lessons were getting on that they 
found extremely disagreeable. Also, their aunt meas- 
ured them, and incited them with loud encouraging 
noises to grow one against the other in an urgent, 
disturbing fashion. 

Aunt Plessington's being was consumed by 
thoughts of getting on. She was like Bernard Shaw's 
life force, and she really did not seem to think there 
was anything in existence but shoving. She had no 
idea what a lark life can be, and occasionally how 
beautiful it can be when you do not shove, if only, 
which becomes increasingly hard each year, you can 
get away from the shovers. She was one of an ener- 
getic family of eight sisters who had maintained 
themselves against a mutual pressure by the use of 
their elbows from the cradle. They had all married 
against each other, all sorts of people ; two had driv- 
en their husbands into bishoprics and made quite 
typical bishop's wives, one got a leading barrister, one 
a high war-office official, and one a rich Jew, and 
Aunt Plessington, after spending some years in just 
missing a rich and only slightly demented baronet, 
had pounced it's the only word for it on Uncle 
Hubert. " A woman is nothing without a husband," 
she said, and took him. He was a fairly comfortable 
Oxford don in his furtive way, and bringing him out 
and using him as a basis, she specialized in intellect- 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 75 

ual philanthropy and evolved her Movement. It 
was quite remarkable how rapidly she overhauled 
her sisters again. 

What the Movement was, varied considerably 
from time to time, but it was always aggressively 
beneficial towards the lower strata of the com- 
munity. Among its central ideas was her belief that 
these lower strata can no more be trusted to eat than 
they can to drink, and that the licensing monopoly 
which has made the poor man's beer thick, lukewarm 
and discreditable, and so greatly minimized its 
consumption, should be extended to the solid side of 
his dietary. She wanted to place considerable re- 
strictions upon the sale of all sorts of meat, upon 
groceries and the less hygienic and more palatable 
forms of bread (which do not sufficiently stimulate 
the coatings of the stomach), to increase the present 
difficulties in the way of tobacco purchasers, and to 
put an end to that wanton and deleterious con- 
sumption of sweets which has so bad an effect upon 
the enamel of the teeth of the younger generation. 
Closely interwoven with these proposals was an a- 
doption of the principle of the East Purblow Experi- 
ment, the principle of Payment in Kind. She was 
quite in agreement with Mr. Pope that poor people, 
when they had money, frittered it away, and so she 
proposed very extensive changes in the Truck Act, 
which could enable employers, under suitable safe- 
guards, and with the advice of a small body of 
spinster inspectors, to supply hygienic housing, 
approved clothing of moral and wholesome sort, 
various forms of insurance, edifying rations, cuisine, 
medical aid and educational facilities as circum- 
stances seemed to justify, in lieu of the wages the 
employees handled so ill. . . . 



76 MARRIAGE 

As no people in England will ever admit they 
belong to the lower strata of society, Aunt Plessing- 
ton's Movement attracted adherents from every 
class in the community. 

She now, as they drove slowly to the vicarage, 
recounted to Marjorie she had the utmost con- 
tempt for Daffy because of her irregular teeth and 
a general lack of progressive activity the steady 
growth of the Movement, and the increasing respect 
shown for her and Hubert in the world of politico- 
social reform. Some of the meetings she had ad- 
dressed had been quite full, various people had made 
various remarks about her, hostile for the most part 
and yet insidiously flattering, and everybody seemed 
quite glad to come to the little dinners she gave in 
order, she said, to gather social support for her re- 
forms. She had been staying with the Mastersteins, 
who were keenly interested, and after she had pol- 
ished off Lady Petchworth she was to visit Lady 
Rosenbaum. It was all going on swimmingly, these 
newer English gentry were eager to learn all she had 
to teach in the art of breaking in the Anglo-Saxon 
villagers, and now, how was Marjorie going on, and 
what was she going to do in the world? 

Marjorie said she was working for her fina 

" And what then ?" asked Aunt Plessington. 

" Not very clear, Aunt, yet." 

" Looking around for something to take up ?" 

" Yes, Aunt." 

" Well, you've time yet. And it's just as well to 
see how the land lies before you begin. It saves go- 
ing back. You'll have to come up to London with 
me for a little while, and see things, and be seen a 
little." 

" I should love to." 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 77 

" I'll give you a good time," said Aunt Plessing- 
ton, nodding promisingly. " Theodore getting on 
in school?" 

" He's had his remove." 

" And how's Sydney getting on with the music ?" 

" Excellently." 

" And Rom. Rom getting on ?" 

Marjorie indicated a more restrained success. 

" And what's Daffy doing?" 

" Oh ! get on !" said Daffy and suddenly whacked 
the donkey rather hard. I beg your pardon, Aunt?" 

" I asked what you were up to, Daffy ?" 

" Dusting, Aunt and the virtues," said Daffy. 

" You ought to find something better than that." 

" Father tells me a lot about the East Purblow 
Experiment," said Daffy after a perceptible interval. 

" Ah !" cried Aunt Plessington with a loud en- 
couraging note, but evidently making the best of it, 
" that's better. Sociological observation." 

" Yes, Aunt," said Daffy, and negotiated a corner 
with exceptional care. 



Mrs. Pope, who had an instinctive disposition to 
pad when Aunt Plessington was about, had secured 
the presence at lunch of Mr. Magnet (who was after 
all staying on in Buryhamstreet) and the Rev. Jop- 
ling Baynes. Aunt Plessington liked to meet the 
clergy, and would always if she could win them over 
to an interest in the Movement. She opened the 
meal with a brisk attack upon him. " Come, Mr. 
Baynes," she said, "what do your people eat here? 
Hubert and I are making a study of the gluttonous 
side of village life, and we find that no one knows so 
much of that as the vicar not even the doctor." 



78 MARRIAGE 

The Reverend Jopling Baynes was a clergyman 
of the evasive type with a quite distinguished voice. 
He pursed his lips and made his eyes round. " Well, 
Mrs. Plessington," he said and fingered his glass, 
" it's the usual dietary. The usual dietary." 

" Too much and too rich, badly cooked and 
eaten too fast," said Aunt Plessington. " And what 
do you think is the remedy?" 

" We make an Effort," said the Rev. Jopling 
Baynes, " we make an Effort. A Hint here, a Word 
there." 

" Nothing organized?" 

" No," said the Rev. Jopling Baynes, and shook 
his head with a kind of resignation. 

" We are going to alter all that," said Aunt Ples- 
sington briskly, and went on to expound the Move- 
ment and the diverse way in which it might be pos- 
sible to control and improve the domestic expendi- 
ture of the working classes. 

The Rev. Jopling Baynes listened sympathetical- 
ly across the table and tried to satisfy a healthy 
appetite with as abstemious an air as possible while 
he did so. Aunt Plessington passed rapidly from 
general principles, to a sketch of the success of the 
movement, and Hubert, who had hitherto been busy 
with his lunch, became audible from behind the ex- 
ceptionally large floral trophy that concealed him 
from his wife, bubbling confirmatory details. She 
was very bright and convincing as she told of this 
prominent man met and subdued, that leading an- 
tagonist confuted, and how the Bishops were coming 
in. She made it clear in her swift way that an 
intelligent cleric resolved to get on in this world en 
route for a better one hereafter, might do worse than 
take up her Movement. And this touched in, she 
turned her mind to Mr. Magnet. 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 79 

(That floral trophy, I should explain, by the by, 
was exceptionally large because of Mrs. Pope's firm 
conviction that Aunt Plessington starved her hus- 
band. Accordingly, she masked him, and so was able 
to heap second and third helpings upon his plate 
without Aunt Plessington discovering his lapse. The 
avidity with which Hubert ate confirmed her worst 
suspicions and evinced, so far as anything ever did 
evince, his gratitude.) 

" Well, Mr. Magnet," she said, " I wish I had 
your sense of humour." 

" I wish you had," said Mr. Magnet. 

" I should write tracts," said Aunt Plessington. 

" I knew it was good for something," said Mr. 
Magnet, and DafFy laughed in a tentative way. 

" I mean it," said Aunt Plessington brightly. 
" Think if we had a Dickens and you are the near- 
est man alive to Dickens on the side of social 
reform to-day!" 

Mr. Magnet's light manner deserted him. " We 
do what we can, Mrs. Plessington," he said. 

" How much more might be done," said Aunt 
Plessington, " if humour could be organized." 

" Hear, hear !" said Mr. Pope. 

" If all the humorists of England could be in- 
duced to laugh at something together." 

" They do at times," said Mr. Magnet, but the 
atmosphere was too serious for his light touch. 

" They could laugh it out of existence," said 
Aunt Plessington. 

It was evident Mr. Magnet was struck by the idea. 

" Of course," he said, " in Punch, to which I 
happen to be an obscure occasional contributor " 

Mrs. Pope was understood to protest that he 
should not say such things. 



80 MARRIAGE 

" We do remember just what we can do either in 
the way of advertising or injury. I don't think 
you'll find us up against any really solid institutions." 

" But do you think, Mr. Magnet, you are suf- 
ficiently kind to the New?" Aunt Plessington per- 
sisted. 

" I think we are all grateful to Punch" said the 
Rev. Jopling Baynes suddenly and sonorously, " for 
its steady determination to direct our mirth into the 
proper channels. I do not think that any one can 
accuse its editor of being unmindful of his great 
responsibilities " 

Marjorie found it a very interesting conversation. 

She always met her aunt again with a renewal of 
a kind of admiration. That loud authoritative rude- 
ness, that bold thrusting forward of the Movement 
until it became the sole criterion of worth or success, 
this annihilation by disregard of all that Aunt Ples- 
sington wasn't and didn't and couldn't, always in the 
intervals seemed too good to be true. Of course this 
really was the way people got on and made a mark, 
but she felt it must be almost as trying to the nerves 
as aeronautics. Suppose, somewhere up there your 
engine stopped! How Aunt Plessington dominated 
the table! Marjorie tried not to catch Daffy's eye. 
Daffy was unostentatiously keeping things going, 
watching the mustard, rescuing the butter, restrain- 
ing Theodore, and I am afraid not listening very 
carefully to Aunt Plessington. The children were 
marvellously silent and jumpily well-behaved, and 
Mr. Pope, in a very unusual state of subdued amiabil- 
ity, sat at the end of the table with the East Pur- 
blow experiment on the tip of his tongue. He liked 
Aunt Plessington, and she was good for him. They 
had the same inherent distrust of the intelligence 
and good intentions of their fellow creatures, and she 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 81 

had the knack of making him feel that he too was 
getting on, that she was saying things on his behalf 
in influential quarters, and in spite of the almost 
universal conspiracy (based on jealousy) to ignore 
his stern old-world virtues, he might still be able to 
battle his way to the floor of the House of Commons 
and there deliver himself before he died of a few sore- 
ly needed home-truths about motor cars, decadence 
and frivolity generally. . . . 

9 

After lunch Aunt Plessington took her little 
Madge for an energetic walk, and showed herself far 
more observant than the egotism of her conversation 
at that meal might have led one to suppose. Or 
perhaps she was only better informed. Aunt Ples- 
sington loved a good hard walk in the afternoon ; 
and if she could get any one else to accompany her, 
then Hubert stayed at home, and curled up into a 
ball on a sofa somewhere, and took a little siesta that 
made him all the brighter for the intellectual activi- 
ties of the evening. The thought of a young life, 
new, untarnished, just at the outset, just addressing 
itself to the task of getting on, always stimulated her 
mind extremely, and she talked to Marjorie with a 
very real and effectual desire to help her to the 
utmost of her ability. 

She talked of a start in life, and the sort of start 
she had had. She showed how many people who 
began with great advantages did not shove sufficient- 
ly, and so dropped out of things and weren't seen and 
mentioned. She defended herself for marrying Hu- 
bert, and showed what a clever shoving thing it had 
been to do. It startled people a little, and made them 
realize that here was a woman who wanted something 
more in a man than a handsome organ-grinder. She 



82 MARRIAGE 

made it clear that she thought a clever marriage, if 
not a startlingly brilliant one, the first duty of a 
girl. It was a girl's normal gambit. She branched 
off to the things single women might do, in order to 
justify this view. She did not think single women 
could do very much. They might perhaps shove as 
suffragettes, but even there a husband helped tre- 
mendously if only by refusing to bail you out. 
She ran over the cases of a number of prominent 
single women. 

" And what," said Aunt Plessington, " do they 
all amount to? A girl is so hampered and an old 
maid is so neglected," said Aunt Plessington. 

She paused. 

*' Why don't you up and marry Mr. Magnet, 
Marjorie?" she said, with her most brilliant flash. 

" It takes two to make a marriage, aunt," said 
Marjorie after a slight hesitation. 

" My dear child ! he worships the ground you 
tread on !" said Aunt Plessington. 

" He's rather grown up," said Marjorie. 

" Not a bit of it. He's not forty. He's just the 
age." 

" I'm afraid it's a little impossible." 

" Impossible ?" 

" You see I've refused him, aunt." 

" Naturally the first time ! But I wouldn't send 
him packing the second." 

There was an interval. 

Marjorie decided on a blunt question. " Do you 
really think, aunt, I should do well to marry Mr. 
Magnet?" 

" He'd give you everything a clever woman 
needs," said Aunt Plessington. " Everything." 

With swift capable touches she indicated the sort 
of life the future Mrs. Magnet might enjoy. " He's 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 83 

evidently a man who wants helping to a position," 
she said. " Of course his farces and things, I'm told, 
make no end of money, but he's just a crude gift by 
himself. Money like that is nothing. With a clever 
wife he might be all sorts of things. Without one 
he'll just subside you know the sort of thing this 
sort of man does. A rather eccentric humorous 
house in the country, golf, croquet, horse-riding, 
rose-growing, queer hats." 

" Isn't that rather what he would like to do, 
aunt?" said Marjorie. 

" That's not our business, Madge," said 1 Aunt 
Plessington with humorous emphasis. 

She began to sketch out a different and altogether 
smarter future for the fortunate humorist. There 
would be a house in a good central position in Lon- 
don where Marjorie would have bright successful 
lunches and dinners, very unpretending and very 
good, and tempt the clever smart with the lure of the 
interestingly clever; there would be a bright little 
country cottage in some pretty accessible place to 
which Aunt and Uncle Plessington and able and in- 
fluential people generally could be invited for gaily 
recreative and yet extremely talkative and helpful 
week-ends. Both places could be made centres of 
intrigue ; conspiracies for getting on and helping and 
exchanging help could be organized, people could be 
warned against people whose getting-on was undesir- 
able. In the midst of it all, dressed with all the 
natural wit she had and an enlarging experience, 
would be Marjorie, shining like a rising planet. It 
wouldn't be long, if she did things well, before she 
had permanent officials and young cabinet ministers 
mingling with her salad of writers and humorists and 
the Plessington connexion. 

" Then," said Aunt Plessington with a joyous 
lift in her voice, " you'll begin to weed a little." 



84 MARRIAGE 

For a time the girl's mind resisted her. 

But Mar j one was of the impressionable sex at an 
impressionable age, and there was something over- 
whelming in the undeviating conviction of her aunt, 
in the clear assurance of her voice, that this life which 
interested her was the real life, the only possible 
successful life. The world reformed itself in Mar- 
jorie's fluent mind, until it was all a scheme of 
influence and effort and ambition and triumphs. Din- 
ner-parties and receptions, men wearing orders, 
cabinet ministers more than a little in love asking her 
advice, beautiful robes, a great blaze of lights ; why ! 
she might be, said Aunt Plessington rising to en- 
thusiasm, " another Marcella." The life was not 
without its adventurous side; it wasn't in any way 
dull. Aunt Plessington to illustrate that point told 
amusing anecdotes of how two almost impudent in- 
vitations on her part had succeeded, and how she 
had once scored off her elder sister by getting a 
coveted celebrity through their close family resem- 
blance. " After accepting he couldn't very well 
refuse because I wasn't somebody else," she ended 
gleefully. " So he came and stayed as long as 
anybody." 

What else was there for Marjorie to contem- 
plate? If she didn't take this by no means unat- 
tractive line, what was the alternative? Some sort 
of employment after a battle with her father, a par- 
simonious life, and even then the Oxbridge trades- 
men and their immortal bills. . . . 

Aunt Plessington was so intent upon her theme 
that she heeded nothing of the delightful little flowers 
she trampled under foot across the down, nor the 
jolly squirrel with an artistic temperament who saw 
fit to give an uninvited opinion upon her personal 
appearance from the security of a beech-tree in the 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 85 

wood. But Marjorie, noting quite a number of such 
things with the corner of her mind, and being now 
well under the Plessington sway, wished she had more 
concentration. . . . 

In the evening after supper the customary games 
were suspended, and Mr. and Mrs. Plessington talked 
about getting on, and work and efficiency generally, 
and explained how so-and-so had spoilt his chances 
in life, and why so-and-so was sure to achieve nothing, 
and how this man ate too much and that man drank 
too much, and on the contrary what promising and 
capable people the latest adherents of and subscrib- 
ers to the Movement were, until two glasses of hot 
water came Aunt Plessington had been told it was 
good for her digestion and she thought it just as well 
that Hubert should have some too and it was time 
for every one to go to bed. 

10 

Next morning an atmosphere of getting on and 
strenuosity generally prevailed throughout the vicar- 
age. The Plessingtons were preparing a memoran- 
dum on their movement for the " Reformer's Year 
Book," every word was of importance and might win 
or lose adherents and subscribers, and they secured 
the undisturbed possession of the drawing-room, 
from which the higher notes of Aunt Plessington's 
voice explaining the whole thing to Hubert, who had 
to write it out, reached, a spur to effort, into every 
part of the house. 

Their influence touched every one. 

Marjorie, struck by the idea that she was not 
perhaps getting on at Oxbridge so fast as she ought 
to do, went into the summer-house with Marshall's 
*' Principles of Economics," read for two hours, and 
did not think about her bills for more than a quarter 



86 MARRIAGE 

ef the time. Rom, who had already got up early and 
read through about a third of " Aurora Leigh," now 
set herself with dogged determination to finish that 
great poem. Syd practised an extra ten minutes 
for Aunt Plessington didn't mind practice so long as 
there wasn't a tune. Mrs. Pope went into the kitchen 
and made a long-needed fuss about the waste of rice. 
Mr. Pope began the pamphlet he had had in contem- 
plation for some time upon the advantages to public 
order of Payment in Kind. Theodore, who had 
washed behind his ears and laced his boots in all the 
holes, went into the yard before breakfast and hit a 
tennis ball against the wall and back, five hundred 
and twenty-two times a record. He would have 
resumed this after breakfast, but his father came 
round the corner of the house with a pen in his mouth, 
and asked him indistinctly, but fiercely, what the 
devil he was doing. So he went away, and after a 
fretful interval set himself to revise his Latin irregu- 
lar verbs. By twelve he had done wonders. 

Later in the day the widening circle of aggressive 
urgency reached the kitchen, and at two the cook 
gave notice in order, she said, to better herself. 

Lunch, unconscious of this impending shadow, 
was characterized by a virtuous cheerfulness, and 
Aunt Plessington told in detail how her seven and 
twenty nephews andj nieces, the children of her vari- 
ous sisters, were all getting on. On the whole, they 
were not getting on so brilliantly as they might have 
done (which indeed is apt to be the case with the 
children of people who have loved not well but too 
wisely), and it was borne in upon the mind of the 
respectfully listening Marjorie that, to borrow an 
easy colloquialism of her aunt's, she might " take 
the shine out of the lot of them " with a very little 
zeal and effort and of course Mr. Magnet. 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 87 

The lecture in the evening at Summerhay was a 
great success. 

The chair was taken by the Rev. Jopling Baynes, 
Lady Petchworth was enthroned behind the table, 
Hubert was in charge of his wife's notes if notes 
should be needed and Mr. Pope, expectant of an in- 
vitation at the end to say a few words about the East 
Purblow experiment, also occupied a chair on the 
platform. Lady Petchworth, with her abundant soft 
blond hair, brightly blond still in spite of her fifty- 
five years, her delicate features, her plump hands, her 
numerous chins and her entirely inaudible voice, made 
a pleasing contrast with Aunt Plessington's resolute 
personality. She had perhaps an even greater as- 
surance of authority, but it was a quiet assurance; 
you felt that she knew that if she spoke in her sleep 
she would be obeyed, that it was quite unnecessary to 
make herself heard. The two women, indeed, the one 
so assertive, the other so established, were at the 
opposite poles of authoritative British womanhood, 
and harmonized charmingly. The little room struck 
the note of a well-regulated brightness at every point, 
it had been decorated in a Keltic but entirely respect- 
ful style by one of Lady Petchworth's artistic dis- 
coveries, it was lit by paraffin lamps that smelt 
hardly at all, and it was gay with colour prints illus- 
trating the growth of the British Empire from the 
battle of Ethandune to the surrender of Cronje. The 
hall was fairly full. Few could afford to absent 
themselves from these brightening occasions, but 
there was a tendency on the part of the younger and 
the less thoughtful section of the village manhood to 
accumulate at the extreme back and rumble in what 
appeared to be a slightly ironical spirit, so far as it 
had aay spirit, with its feet. 



88 MARRIAGE 

The Rev. Jopling Baynes opened proceedings 
with a few well-chosen remarks, in which he compli- 
mented every one present either singly or collectively 
according to their rank and importance, and then 
Aunt Plessington came forward to the centre of the 
platform amidst a hectic flush of applause, and said 
" Haw !" in a loud clear ringing tone. 

She spoke without resorting to the notes in Hu- 
bert's little fist, very freely and easily. Her strangu- 
lated contralto went into every corner of the room 
and positively seemed to look for and challenege 
inattentive auditors. She had come over, she said, 
and she had been very glad to come over and talk to 
them that night, because it meant not only seeing them 
but meeting her very dear delightful friend Lady 
Petchworth (loud applause) and staying for a day 
or so with her brother-in-law Mr. Pope (unsupported 
outburst of applause from Mr. Magnet), to whom 
she and social reform generally owed so much. She 
had come to talk to them that night about the Na- 
tional Good Habits Movement, which was attracting 
so much attention and which bore so closely on our 
National Life and Character; she happened to be 
here Aunt Plessington smiled as she spoke a hum- 
ble person connected with that movement, just a 
mere woman connected with it; she was going to 
explain to them as well as she could in her womanly 
way and in the time at her disposal just what it was 
and just what it was for, and just what means it 
adopted and just what ends it had in view. JWell, 
they all knew what Habits were, and that there were 
Good Habits and Bad Habits, and she supposed that 
the difference between a good man and a bad man 
was just that the good man had good habits and the 
bad one had bad habits. Everybody she supposed 
wanted to get on. If a man had good habits he got 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 89 

on, and if he had bad habits he didn't get on, and she 
supposed it was the same with a country, if its people 
had good habits they got on, and if its people had 
bad habits they didn't get on. For her own part she 
and her husband (Hubert gave a little self-conscious 
jump) had always cultivated good habits, and she 
had to thank him with all her heart for his help in 
doing so. (Applause from the front seats.) Now, 
the whole idea of her movement was to ask, how can 
we raise the standard of the national habits ? how can 
we get rid of bad habits and cultivate good ones? 
. . . (Here there was a slight interruption due to 
some one being suddenly pushed off the end of a 
form at the back, and coming to the floor with audi- 
ble violence, after which a choked and obstructed 
tittering continued intermittently for some time.) 

Some of her audience, she remarked, had not yet 
acquired the habit of sitting still. 

(Laughter, and a coarse vulgar voice : " Good 'old 
Billy Punt!") 

Well, to resume, she and her husband had made a 
special and careful study of habits; they had con- 
sulted all sorts of people and collected all sorts of 
statistics, in fact they had devoted themselves to this 
question, and the conclusion to which they came was 
this, that Good Habits were acquired by Training 
and Bad Habits came from neglect and carelessness 
and leaving people, who weren't fit for such freedom, 
to run about and do just whatever they liked. And 
so, she went on with a note of complete demonstra- 
tion, the problem resolved itself into the question of 
how far they could get more Training into the na- 
tional lif e, and how they could check extravagant and 
unruly and wasteful and unwise ways of living. 
(Hear, hear! from Mr. Pope.) And this was the 
problem she and her husband had set themselves to- 
solve. 



90 MARRIAGE 

(Scuffle, and a boy's voice at the back, saying: 
" Oh, shut it, Nuts ! SHUT it !") 

Well, she and her husband had worked the thing 
out, and they had come to the conclusion that what 
was the matter with the great mass of English people 
was first that they had rather too much loose money, 
and secondly that they had rather too much loose 
time. (A voice: "What O!" and the Rev. Jopling 
Baynes suddenly extended his neck, knitted his brows, 
and became observant of the interrupter.) She did 
not say they had too much money (a second voice: 
"Not Arf!"), but too much loose money. She did 
not say they had too much time but too much loose 
time, that is to say, they had money and time they, 
did not know how to spend properly. And so they 
got into mischief. A great number of people in this 
country, she maintained, and this was especially true 
of the lower classes, did not know how to spend either 
money or time; they bought themselves wasteful 
things and injurious things, and they frittered away 
their hours in all sorts of foolish, unprofitable ways. 
And, after the most careful and scientific study of 
this problem, she and her husband had come to the 
conclusion that two main principles must underlie 
any remedial measures that were attempted, the first 
of which was the Principle of Payment in Kind, which 
had already had so interesting a trial at the great 
carriage works of East Purblow, and the second, the 
Principle of Continuous Occupation, which had been 
recognized long ago in popular wisdom by that 
admirable proverb or rather quotation she be- 
lieved it was a quotation, though she gave, she feared, 
very little time to poetry ("Better employed," from 
Mr. Pope)^-^ 

"Satan finds some mischief still 
For idle hands to do." 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 91 

(Irrepressible outbreak of wild and sustained ap- 
plause from the back seats, and in a sudden lull a 
female voice asking in a flattened, thwarted tone: 
" Ain't there to be no lantern then?") 

The lecturer went on to explain what was meant 
by either member of what perhaps they would per- 
mit her to call this double-barrelled social remedy. 

It was an admirable piece of lucid exposition. 
Slowly the picture of a better, happier, more dis- 
ciplined England grew upon the minds of the meet- 
ing. First she showed the new sort of employer her 
movement would evoke, an employer paternal, phil- 
anthropic, vaguely responsible for the social order 
of all his dependants. (Lady Petchworth was seen 
to nod her head slowly at this.) Only in the last 
resort, and when he was satisfied that his worker 
and his worker's family were properly housed, hy- 
gienically clothed and fed, attending suitable courses 
of instruction and free from any vicious inclinations, 
would he pay wages in cash. In the discharge of the 
duties of payment he would have the assistance of 
expert advice, and the stimulus of voluntary inspec- 
tors of his own class. He would be the natural clan- 
master, the captain and leader, adviser and care- 
taker of his banded employees. Responsibility 
would stimulate him, and if responsibility did not 
stimulate him, inspectors (both men and women 
inspectors) would. The worker, on the other hand, 
would be enormously more healthy and efficient under 
the new regime. His home, designed by qualified and 
officially recognized architects, would be prettier as 
well as more convenient and elevating to his taste, 
his children admirably trained and dressed in the new 
and more beautiful clothing with which Lady Petch- 
worth (applause) had done so much to make them 
familiar, his vital statistics compared with current 



92 MARRIAGE 

results would be astonishingly good, his mind free 
from any anxiety but the proper anxiety of a man 
in his position, to get his work done properly and 
earn recognition from those competent and duly au- 
thorized to judge it. Of all this she spoke with the 
inspiring note of absolute conviction. All this would 
follow Payment in Kind and Continuous Occupation 
as days follow sunrise. And there would always, 
and here Aunt Plessington's voice seemed to brighten 
be something for the worker to get on with, some- 
thing for him to do ; lectures, classes, reading-rooms, 
improving entertainments. His time would be filled. 
The proper authorities would see that it was filled 
and filled in the right way. Never for a moment 
need he be bored. He would never have an excuse 
for being bored. That was the second great idea, the 
complementary idea to the first. " And here it is," 
she said, turning a large encouraging smile on Lady 
Petchworth, " that the work of a National Theatre, 
instructive, stimulating, well regulated, and morally 
sustaining, would come in." He wouldn't, of course, 
be compelled to go, but there would be his seat, part 
of his payment in kind, and the public-house would 
be shut, most other temptations would be removed. . . . 

The lecture reached its end at last with only one 
other interruption. Some would-be humorist sud- 
denly inquired, a propos of nothing : " What's the 
fare to America, Billy ? " and a voice, presumbly 
Billy's, answered him : " Mor'n you'll ev *av in you' 
pocket." 

The Rev. Jopling Baynes, before he called upon 
Mr. Pope for his promised utterance about East 
Purblow, could not refrain from pointing out how 
silly " in every sense of the word " these wanton 
interruptions were. What, he asked, had English 
social reform to do with the fare to America? and 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 93 

having roused the meeting to an alert silence by the 
length of his pause, answered in a voice of ringing 
contempt : " Nothing whatsoever." Then Mr. Pope 
made his few remarks about East Purblow with the 
ease and finish that comes from long practice ; much, 
he said, had to be omitted " in view of " the restricted 
time at his disposal, but he did not grudge that, the 
time had been better filled. (" No, no," from Aunt 
Plessington.) Yes, yes, by the lucid and delightful 
lecture they had all enjoyed, and he not least among 
them. (Applause.) . . . 



They came out into a luminous blue night, with a 
crescent young moon high overhead. It was so fine 
that the Popes and the Plessingtons and Mr. Magnet 
declined Lady Petchworth's proffered car, and walk- 
ed back to Buryhamstreet across the park through a 
sleeping pallid cornfield, and along by the edge of 
the pine woods. Mr. Pope would have liked to walk 
with Mr. Magnet and explain all that the pressure on 
his time had caused him to omit from his speech, and 
why it was he had seen fit to omit this part and 
include that. Some occult power, however, baffled 
this intention, and he found himself going home in the 
company of his brother-in-law and Daffy, with Aunt 
Plessington and his wife like a barrier between him 
and his desire. Marjorie, on the other hand, found 
Mr. Magnet's proximity inevitable. They fell a little 
behind and were together again for the first time 
since her refusal. 

He behaved, she thought, with very great re- 
straint, and indeed he left her a little doubtful on 
that occasion whether he had not decided to take 



94 MARRIAGE 

her decision as final. He talked chiefly about 
the lecture, which had impressed him very deeply. 
Mrs. Plessington, he said, was so splendid made 
him feel trivial. He felt stirred up by her, 
wanted to help in this social work, this picking 
up of helpless people from the muddle in which they 
wallowed. 

He seemed not only extraordinarily modest but 
extraordinarily gentle that night, and the warm 
moonshine gave his face a shadowed earnestness it 
lacked in more emphatic lights. She felt the pro- 
found change in her feelings towards him that had 
followed her rejection of him. It had cleared away 
his effect of oppression upon her. She had no longer 
any sense of entanglement and pursuit, and all the 
virtues his courtship had obscured shone clear again. 
He was kindly, he was patient and she felt some- 
thing about him a woman is said always to respect, he 
gave her an impression of ability. After all, he could 
banish the trouble that crushed and overwhelmed her 
with a movement of his little finger. Of all her load 
of debt he could earn the payment in a day. 

"Your aunt goes to-morrow?" he said. 

Marjorie admitted it. 

" I wish I could talk to her more. She's so in- 
spiring." 

" You know of our little excursion for Friday ?" 
he asked after a pause. 

She had not heard. Friday was Theodore's 
birthday ; she knew it only too well because she had 
had to part with her stamp collection which very 
luckily had chanced to get packed and come to Bury- 
hamstreet to meet its demand. Mr. Magnet ex- 
plained he had thought it might be fun to give a 
picnic in honour of the anniversary. 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 95 

" How jolly of you!" said Marjorie. 

" There's a pretty bit of river between Wamping 
and Friston Hanger I've wanted you to see it 
for a long time, and Friston Hanger church has 
the prettiest view. The tower gets the bend of the 
river." 

He told her all he meant to do as if he submitted 
his plans for her approval. They would drive to 
Wamping and get a very comfortable little steam 
launch one could hire there. Wintersloan was com- 
ing down again ; an idle day of this kind just suited 
his temperament. Theodore would like it, wouldn't 
he? 

" Theodore will think he is King of Surrey !" 

" I'll have a rod and line if he wants to fish. I 
don't want to forget anything. I want it to be his 
day really and truly." 

The slightest touch upon the pathetic note? She 
could not tell. 

But that evening brought Marjorie nearer to 
loving Magnet than she had ever been. Before she 
went to sleep that night she had decided he was quite 
a tolerable person again; she had been too nervous 
and unjust with him. After all, his urgency and 
awkwardness had been just a part of his sincerity. 
Perhaps the faint doubt whether he would make his 
request again gave the zest of uncertainty to his 
devotion. Of course, she told herself, he would ask 
again. And then the blissful air of limitless means 
she might breathe. The blessed release. . . . 

She was suddenly fast asleep. 



Friday was after all not so much Theodore's day 
as Mr. Magnet's. 



96 MARRIAGE 

Until she found herself committed there was no 
shadow of doubt in Marj one's mind of what she 
meant to do. " Before I see you again," said Aunt 
Plessington at the parting kiss, " I hope you'll have 
something to tell me." She might have been Hymen 
thinly disguised as an aunt, waving from the depart- 
ing train. She continued by vigorous gestures and 
unstinted display of teeth and a fluttering handker- 
chief to encourage Marjorie to marry Mr. Mag- 
net, until the curve of the cutting hid her from 
view. . . . 

Fortune favoured Mr. Magnet with a beautiful 
day, and the excursion was bright and successful 
from the outset. It was done well, and what perhaps 
was more calculated to impress Marjorie, it was done 
with lavish generosity. From the outset she turned a 
smiling countenance upon her host. She did her 
utmost to suppress a reviving irrational qualm in 
her being, to maintain clearly and simply her over- 
night decision, that he should propose again and that 
she should accept him. 

Yet the festival was just a little dreamlike in its 
quality to her perceptions. She found she could 
not focus clearly on its details. 

Two waggonettes came from Wamping; there 
was room for everybody and to spare, and Wamping 
revealed itself a pleasant small country town with 
stocks under the market hall, and just that tint of 
green paint and that loafing touch the presence of 
a boating river gives. 

The launch was brilliantly smart with abundant 
crimson cushions and a tasselled awning, and away 
to the left was a fine old bridge that dated in its 
essentials from Plantagenet times. 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 97 

They started with much whistling and circling, 
and went away up river under overhanging trees that 
sometimes swished the funnel, splashing the meadow 
path and making the reeds and bulrushes dance with 
their wash. They went through a reluctant lock, 
steamed up a long reach, they passed the queerly 
painted Potwell Inn with its picturesque group of 
poplars and its absurd new notice-board of " Om- 
lets." . . . Theodore was five stone of active 
happiness; he and the pseudo-twins, strictly under 
his orders as the universal etiquette of birthdays 
prescribes, clambered round and round the boat, 
clutching the awning rail and hanging over the water 
in an entirely secure and perilous looking manner. 
No one, unless his father happened to be upset by 
something, would check him, he knew, on this aus- 
picious day. Mr. Magnet sat with the grey eye on 
Marjorie and listened a little abstractedly to Mr. 
Pope, who was telling very fully what he would say 
if the Liberal party were to ask his advice at the 
present juncture. Mrs. Pope attended discreetly, 
and Daffy and Marjorie with a less restrained inter- 
est, to Mr. Wintersloan, who showed them how to 
make faces out of a fist tied up in a pocket-handker- 
chief, how to ventriloquize, how to conjure with 
halfpence which he did very amusingly and what 
the buttons on a man's sleeve were for; Theodore 
clambering at his back discovered what he was at, 
and by right of birthday made him do all the faces 
and tricks over again. Then Mr. Wintersloan told 
stories of all the rivers along which, he said, he had 
travelled in steamboats ; the Rhine, the Danube, the 
Hoogly and the Fall River, and particularly how he 
had been bitten by a very young crocodile. " It's 
the smell of the oil brings it all back to me," he said* 
" And the kind of sway it gives you." 



98 MARRIAGE 

He made sinuous movements of his hand, and 
looked at Marjorie with that wooden yet expressive 
smile. 

Friston Hanger proved to be even better than 
tWamping. It had a character of its own because it 
was built very largely of a warm buff coloured local 
rock instead of the usual brick, and the outhouses at 
least of the little inn at which they landed were 
thatched. Most of the cottages had casement win- 
dows with diamond panes, and the streets were cob- 
bled and very up-and-down hill. The place ran to 
high walls richly suggestive of hidden gardens, over- 
hung by big trees and pierced by secretive important 
looking doors. And over it all rose an unusually big 
church, with a tall buttressed tower surmounted by a 
lantern of pierced stone. 

" We'll go through the town and look at the ruins 
of the old castle beyond the church," said Mr. Mag- 
net to Marjorie, " and then I want you to see the 
view from the church tower." 

And as they went through the street, he called 
her attention again to the church tower in a voice 
that seemed to her to be inexplicably charged with 
significance. " I want you to go up there," he said. 

"How about something to eat, Mr. Magnet?" 
remarked Theodore suddenly, and everybody felt a 
little surprised when Mr. Magnet answered : " Who 
wants things to eat on your birthday, Theodore?" 

But they saw the joke of that when they reached 
the castle ruins and found in the old tilting yard, 
with its ivy-covered arch framing a view of the town 
and stream, a table spread with a white cloth that 
shone in the sunshine, glittering with glass and silver 
and gay with a bowl of salad and flowers and cold 
pies and a jug of claret-cup and an ice pail a silver 
pail ! containing two promising looking bottles, in the 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 99 

charge of two real live waiters, in evening dress as 
waiters should be, but with straw hats to protect 
them from the sun and weather. " Oh !" cried Mrs. 
Pope, " what a splendid idea, Mr. Magnet," when 
the destination of the feast was perfectly clear, and 
even Theodore seemed a little overawed almost as 
if he felt his birthday was being carried too far and 
might provoke a judgment later. Manifestly Mr. 
Magnet must have ordered this in London, and have 
had it sent down, waiters and all! Theodore knew 
he was a very wonderful little boy in spite of the 
acute criticism of four devoted sisters, and Mr. 
Magnet had noticed him before at times, but this 
was, well, rather immense ! " Look at the pie-crusts, 
old man!" And on the pie-crusts, and on the icing 
of the cake, their munificent host had caused to be 
done in little raised letters of dough and chocolate 
the word " Theodore." 

"Oh, Mr. Magnet!" said Marjorie his eye so 
obviously invited her to say something. Mr. Pope 
tried a nebulous joke about " groaning boards of 
Frisky Hanger," and only Mr. Wintersloan restrain- 
ed his astonishment and admiration. " You could 
have got those chaps in livery," he said unheeded. 
The lunch was as a matter of fact his idea; he had 
refused to come unless it was provided, and he had 
somehow counted on blue coats, brass buttons, and 
yellow waistcoats but everybody else of course 
ascribed the whole invention to Mr. Magnet. 

" Well," said Mr. Pope with a fine air of epigram, 
" the only thing I can say is to eat it," and pre- 
pared to sit down. 

" Melon," cried Mr. Magnet to the waiters, " we'll 
begin with the melon. Have you ever tried melon 
with pepper and salt, Mrs. Pope?" 



100 MARRIAGE 

" You put salt in everything," admired Mr. Pope. 
" Salt from those attics of yours Attic salt." 

" Or there's ginger !" said Mr. Magnet, after a 
whisper from the waiter. 

Mr. Pope said something classical about " ginger 
hot in the mouth." 

" Some of these days," said Mr. Wintersloan, 
" when I have exhausted all other sensations, I mean 
to try melon and mustard." 

Rom made a wonderful face at him. 

" I can think of worse things than that," said Mr. 
Wintersloan with a hard brightness. 

" Not till after lunch, Mr. Wintersloan !" said 
Rom heartily. 

" The claret cup's all right for Theodore, Mrs. 
Pope," said Magnet. " It's a special twelve year old 
brand." (He thought of everything!) 

" Mummy," said Mr. Pope. " You'd better 
carve this pie, I think." 

" I want very much," said Mr. Magnet in Mar- 
jorie's ear and very confidentially, " to show you the 
view from the church tower. I think it will appeal 
to you." 

" Rom !" said Theodore, uncontrollably, in a 
tremendous stage whisper. " There's peaches ! . . . 
There! on the hamper!" 

" Champagne, m'am?" said the waiter suddenly 
in Mrs. Pope's ear, wiping ice-water from the bottle. 

(But what could it have cost him?) 



Marjorie would have preferred that Mr. Magnet 
should not have decided with such relentless deter- 
mination to make his second proposal on the church 
tower. His purpose was luminously clear to her from 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 101 

the beginning of lunch onward, and she could feel 
her nerves going under the strain of that long expec- 
tation. She tried to pull herself together, tried not 
to think about it, tried to be amused by the high 
spirits and nonsense of Mr. Wintersloan and Syd 
and Rom and Theodore; but Mr. Magnet was very 
pervasive, and her mother didn't ever look at her, 
looked past her and away from her and all round her, 
in a profoundly observant manner. Marjorie felt 
chiefly anxious to get to the top of that predestinate 
tower and have the whole thing over, and it was with 
a start that she was just able to prevent one of the 
assiduous waiters filling her glass with champagne 
for the third time. 

There was a little awkwardness in dispersing after 
lunch. Mr. Pope, his heart warmed by the cham- 
pagne and mellowed by a subsequent excellent cigar, 
wanted very much to crack what he called a " post- 
prandial jest " or so with the great humorist, while 
Theodore also, deeply impressed with the discovery 
that there was more in Mr. Magnet than he had 
supposed, displayed a strong disposition to attach 
himself more closely than he had hitherto done to 
this remarkable person, and study his quiet but 
enormous possibilities with greater attention. Mrs. 
Pope with a still alertness did her best to get people 
adjusted, but Syd and Rom had conceived a base 
and unnatural desire to subjugate the affections of 
the youngest waiter, and wouldn't listen to her pro- 
posal that they should take Theodore away into the 
town; Mr. Wintersloan displayed extraordinary 
cunning and resource in evading a tete-a-tete with 
Mr. Pope that would have released Mr. Magnet. 
Now Mrs. Pope came to think of it, Mr. Wintersloan 
never had had the delights of a good talk with Mr. 
Pope, he knew practically nothing about the East 



102 MARRIAGE 

Purblow experiment except for what Mr. Magnet 
might have retailed to him, and she was very greatly 
puzzled to account for his almost manifest reluctance 
to go into things thoroughly. Daffy remained on 
hand, available but useless, and Mrs. Pope, smiling 
at the landscape and a prey to Management within, 
was suddenly inspired to take her eldest daughter 
into her confidence. " Daffy," she said, with a guile- 
ful finger extended and pointing to the lower sky 
as though she was pointing out the less obvious and 
more atmospheric beauties of Surrey, " get Theo- 
dore away from Mr. Magnet if you can. He wants 
to talk to Marjorie." 

Daffy looked round. "Shall I call him?" she 
said. 

" No," said Mrs. Pope, " do it just quietly." 

" I'll try," said Daffy and stared at her task, and 
Mrs. Pope, feeling that this might or might not suc- 
ceed but that anyhow she had done what she could, 
strolled across to her husband and laid a connubial 
touch upon his shoulder. " All the young people," 
she said, " are burning to climb the church tower. I 
never can understand this activity after lunch." 

" Not me," said Mr. Pope. " Eh, Magnet?" 

" I'm game," said Theodore. " Come along, Mr. 
Magnet." 

" I think," said Mr. Magnet looking at Marjorie, 
" I shall go up. I want to show Marjorie the view." 

" We'll stay here, Mummy, eh?" said Mr. Pope, 
with a quite unusual geniality, and suddenly put his 
arm round Mrs. Pope's waist. Her motherly eye 
sought Daffy's, and indicated her mission. " I'll 
come with you, Theodore," said Daffy. " There isn't 
room for everyone at once up that tower." 

" I'll go with Mr. Magnet," said Theodore, rely- 
ing firmly on the privileges of the day. . . . 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 103 

For a time they played for position, with the 
intentions of Mr. Magnet showing more and more 
starkly through the moves of the game. At last 
Theodore was lured down a side street by the sight of 
a huge dummy fish dangling outside a tackle and bait 
shop, and Mr. Magnet and Marjorie, already with a 
dreadful feeling of complicity, made a movement so 
rapid it seemed to her almost a bolt for the church 
tower. Whatever Mr. Magnet desired to say, and 
whatever elasticity his mind had once possessed with 
regard to it, there can be no doubt that it had now 
become so rigid as to be say able only in that one 
precise position, and in the exact order he had deter- 
mined upon. But when at last they got to that high 
serenity, Mr. Magnet was far too hot and far too 
much out of breath to say anything at all for a time 
except an almost explosive gust or so of approbation 
of the scenery. " Shor' breath !" he said, " win'ey 
stairs always that 'feet on me buful sceny 
Suwy like it always." 

Marjorie found herself violently disposed to 
laugh ; indeed she had never before been so near the 
verge of hysterics. 

" It's a perfectly lovely view," she said. " No 
wonder you wanted me to see it." 

" Naturally," said Mr. Magnet, " wanted you to 
see it." 

Marjorie, with a skill her mother might have 
envied, wriggled into a half-sitting position in an 
embrasure and concentrated herself upon the broad 
wooded undulations that went about the horizon, and 
Mr. Magnet mopped his face with surreptitious ges- 
tures, and took deep restoring breaths. 

" I've always wanted to bring you here," he said, 
" ever since I found it in the spring." 



104 MARRIAGE 

" It was very kind of you, Mr. Magnet," said 
Marjorie. 

" You see," he explained, " whenever I see any- 
thing fine or rich or splendid or beautiful now, I seem 
to want it for you." His voice quickened as though 
he were repeating something that had been long in 
his mind. " I wish I could give you all this country. 
I wish I could put all that is beautiful in the world at 
your feet." 

He watched the effect of this upon her for a 
moment. 

" Marjorie," he said, " did you really mean what 
you told me the other day, that there was indeed no 
hope for me? I have a sort of feeling I bothered you 
that day, that perhaps you didn't mean all " 

He stopped short. 

" I don't think I knew what I meant," said Mar- 
jorie, and Magnet gave a queer sound of relief at 
her words. " I don't think I know what I mean now. 
I don't think I can say I love you, Mr. Magnet. I 
would if I could. I like you very much indeed, I 
think you are awfully kind, you're more kind and 
generous than anyone I have ever known. . . . * 

Saying he was kind and generous made her 
through some obscure association of ideas feel that 
he must have understanding. She had an impulse to 
put her whole case before him frankly. " I wonder," 
she said, " if you can understand what it is to be a 
girl." 

Then she saw the absurdity of her idea, of any 
such miracle of sympathy. He was entirely concen- 
trated upon the appeal he had come prepared to 
make. 

" Marjorie," he said, " I don't ask you to love me 
yet. All I ask is that you shouldn't decide not to 
love me." 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 105 

Marjorie became aware of Theodore, hotly fol- 
lowed by Daffy, in the churchyard below. " I know 
he's up there," Theodore was manifestly saying. 

Marjorie faced her lover gravely. 

" Mr. Magnet," she said, " I will certainly 
promise you that." 

" I would rather be your servant, rather live for 
your happiness, than do anything else in all the 
world," said Mr. Magnet. " If you would trust your 
life to me, if you would deign ." He paused to 
recover his thread. " If you would deign to let me 
make life what it should be for you, take every care 
from your shoulders, face every responsibility " 

Marjorie felt she had to hurry. She could almost 
feel the feet of Theodore coming up that tower. 

" Mr. Magnet," she said, " you don't understand. 
You don't realize what I am. You don't know how 
unworthy I am what a mere ignorant child " 

" Let me be judge of that !" cried Mr. Magnet. 

They paused almost like two actors who listen 
for the prompter. It was only too obvious that 
both were aware of a little medley of imperfectly sub- 
dued noises below. Theodore had got to the ladder 
that made the last part of the ascent, and there Daffy 
had collared him. " My birthday," said Theodore. 
" Come down ! You shan't go up there !" said Daffy. 
"You mustn't, Theodore!" "Why not?" There 
was something like a scuffle, and whispers. Then it 
would seem Theodore went reluctantly and with 
protests. But the conflict receded. 

"Marjorie!" said Mr. Magnet, as though there 
had been no pause. " if you would consent only to 
make an experiment, if you would try to love me. 
Suppose you tried an engagement. I do not care 
how long I waited. . . . " 



106 MARRIAGE 

He paused. " Will you try ?" he urged upon her 
distressed silence. 

She felt as though she forced the word. " Yes!" 
she said in a very low voice. 

Then it seemed to her that Mr. Magnet leapt upon 
her. She felt herself pulled almost roughly from 
the embrasure, and he had kissed her. She strug- 
gled in his embrace. " Mr. Magnet '" she said. He 
lifted her face and kissed her lips. "Marjorie!' he 
said, and she had partly released herself. 

" Oh don't kiss me," she cried, " don't kiss me 
yet !" 

" But a kiss !" 

" I don't like it." 

" I beg your pardon !" he said. " I forgot -. 

But you . . . You ... I couldn't help it." 

She was suddenly wildly sorry for what she had 
done. She felt she was going to cry, to behave ab- 
surdly. 

" I want to go down," she said. 

" Marjorie, you have made me the happiest of 
men! All my life, all my strength I will spend in 
showing you that you have made no mistake in trust- 
ing me " 

" Yes," she said, " yes," and wondered what she 
could say or do. It seemed to him that her shrinking 
pose was the most tenderly modest thing he had ever 
seen. 

" Oh my dear !" he said, and restrained himself 
and took her passive hand and kissed it. 

" I want to go down to them ! " she insisted. 

He paused on the topmost rungs of the ladder, 
looking unspeakable things at her. Then he turned 
to go down, and for the second time in her life she 
saw that incipient thinness 

" I am sure you will never be sorry," he said. . . 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 107 

They found Mr. and Mrs. Pope in the church- 
yard. Mr. Pope was reading with amusement for 
the third time an epitaph that had caught his 

fancy 

"Lands ever bright, days ever fair, 
And yet we weep that he is there." 

he read. "You know that's really Good. That ought 
to be printed somewhere." 

Mrs. Pope glanced sharply at her daughter's 
white face, and found an enigma. Then she looked at 
Mr. Magnet. 

There was no mistake about Mr. Magnet. Mar- 
jorie had accepted him, whatever else she had felt or 
done. 



Marjorie's feelings for the rest of the day are 
only to be accounted for on the supposition that she 
was overwrought. She had a preposterous reaction. 
She had done this thing with her eyes open after days 
of deliberation, and now she felt as though she was 
caught in a trap. The clearest thing in her mind 
was that Mr. Magnet had taken hold of her and 
kissed her, kissed her on the lips, and that presently 
he would do it again. And also she was asking her- 
self with futile reiteration why she had got into debt 
at Oxbridge? Why she had got into debt? For such 
silly little things too ! 

Nothing definite was said in her hearing about 
the engagement, but everybody seemed to understand. 
Mr. Pope was the most demonstrative, he took oc- 
casion to rap her hard upon the back, his face 
crinkled with a resolute kindliness. " Ah !" he said, 
" Sly Maggots !" 



108 MARRIAGE 

He also administered several resounding blows 
to Magnet's shoulder blades, and irradiated the party 
with a glow of benevolent waggery. Marjorie sub- 
mitted without an answer to these paternal intima- 
tions. Mrs. Pope did no more than watch her 
daughter. Invisible but overwhelming forces were 
busy in bringing Marjorie and her glowing lover 
alone together again. It happened at last, as he was 
departing; she was almost to her inflamed imagina- 
tion thrust out upon him, had to take him to the 
gate ; and there in the shadows of the trees he kissed 
her " good night " with passionate effusion. 

" Madge," he said, " Madge !" 

She made no answer. She submitted passively to 
his embrace, and then suddenly and dexterously 
disengaged herself from him, ran in, and without 
saying good-night to anyone went to her room to 
bed. 

Mr. Pope was greatly amused by this departure 
from the customary routine of life, and noted it 
archly. 

When Daffy came up Marjorie was ostentatious- 
ly going to sleep. . . . 

As she herself was dropping off Daffy became 
aware of an odd sound, somehow familiar, and yet 
surprising and disconcerting. 

Suddenly wide awake again, she started up. Yes 
there was no mistake about it ! And yet it was very 
odd. 

" Madge, what's up ?" 

No answer. 

" I say! you aren't crying, Madge, are you?" 

Then after a long interval : " Madge!" 

An answer came in a muffled voice, almost as if 
Marjorie had something in her mouth. " Oh shut 
it, old Daffy." 



PROPOSALS OF MR. MAGNET 109 

" But Madge ?" said Daffy after reflection. 

" Shut it. Do shut it ! Leave me alone, I say ! 
Can't you leave me alone ? Oh !" and for a moment 
she let her sobs have way with her " Daffy, don't 
worry me. Old Daffy ! Please!" 

Daffy sat up for a long time in the stifled silence 
that ensued, and then like a sensible sister gave it up, 
and composed herself again to slumber. . . . 

Outside watching the window in a state of nebu- 
lous ecstasy, was Mr. Magnet, moonlit and dewy. It 
was a high serene night with a growing moon and a 
scattered company of major stars, and if no choir 
of nightingales sang there was at least a very active 
nightjar. " More than I hoped," whispered Mr. 
Magnet, " more than I dared to hope." He was very 
sleepy, but it seemed to him improper to go to bed 
on such a night on such an occasion. 



CHAPTER THE THIRD 

THE MAN WHO FELL OUT OF THE SKY 

1 

FOR the next week Marjorie became more nearly 
introspective than she had ever been in her life be- 
fore. She began to doubt her hitherto unshaken con- 
viction that she was a single, consistent human being. 
She found such discords and discrepancies between 
mood and mood, between the conviction of this hour 
and the feeling of that, that it seemed to her she was 
rather a collection of samples of emotion and atti- 
tude than anything so simple as an individual. 

For example, there can be no denying there was 
one Marjorie in the bundle who was immensely set 
up by the fact that she was engaged, and going to be 
at no very remote date mistress of a London house. 
She was profoundly Plessingtonian, and quite the 
vulgarest of the lot. The new status she had attained 
and the possibly beautiful house and the probably 
successful dinner-parties and the arrangements and 
^ie importance of such a life was the substance of 
this creature's thought. She designed some queenly 
dresses. This was the Marjorie most in evidence when 
it came to talking with her mother and Daphne. I 
am afraid she patronized Daphne, and ignored the 
fact that Daphne, who had begun with a resolute 
magnanimity, was becoming annoyed and resentful. 

And she thought of things she might buy, and the 
jolly feeling of putting them about and making fine 
effects with them. One thing she told Daphne, she 
had clearly resolved upon ; the house should be always 
full and brimming over with beautiful flowers. " I've 

110 



OUT OF THE SKY 111 

always wished mother would have more flowers and 
not keep them so long when she has them . . . s 

Another Marjorie in the confusion of her mind 
was doing her sincerest, narrow best to appreciate 
and feel grateful for and return the devotion of Mr. 
Magnet. This Marjorie accepted and even elabor- 
ated his views, laid stress on his voluntary subjection, 
harped upon his goodness, brought her to kiss him. 

" I don't deserve all this love," this side of Mar- 
jorie told Magnet. " But I mean to learn to love 
you 

" My dear one ! " cried Magnet, and pressed her 
hand. . . . 

A third Marjorie among the many was an al- 
together acuter and less agreeable person. She was a 
sprite of pure criticism, and in spite of the utmost 
efforts to suppress her, she declared night and day in 
the inner confidences of Marjorie's soul that she did 
not believe in Mr. Magnet's old devotion at all. She 
was anti-Magnet, a persistent insurgent. She was 
dreadfully unsettling. It was surely this Marjorie 
that wouldn't let the fact of his baldness alone, and 
who discovered and insisted upon a curious unbeauti- 
ful flatness in his voice whenever he was doing his 
best to speak from the heart. And as for this de- 
votion, what did it amount to? A persistent un- 
imaginative besetting of Marjorie, a growing air of 
ownership, an expansive, indulgent, smiling disposi- 
tion to thwart and control. And he was always 
touching her ! Whenever he came near her she would 
wince at the freedoms a large, kind hand might take 
with her elbow or wrist, at a possible sudden, clumsy 
pat at some erring strand of hair. 

Then there was an appraising satisfaction in his 
eye. 

On the third (Jay of their engagement he began, 



112 MARRIAGE 

quite abruptly, to call her " Magsy." " We'll end 
this scandal of a Girl Pope," he said. " Magsy 
Magnet, you'll be M.M. No women M.P.'s for us, 
Magsy. . . ." 

She became acutely critical of his intellectual 
quality. She listened with a new alertness to the 
conversations at the dinner-table, the bouts of wit 
with her father. She carried off utterances and 
witticism for maturer reflection. She was amazed to 
find how little they could withstand the tests and 
acids of her mind. So many things, such wide and 
interesting fields, he did not so much think about as 
cover with a large enveloping shallowness. . . . 

He came strolling around the vicarage into the 
garden one morning about eleven, though she had not 
expected him until lunch-time; and she was sitting 
with her feet tucked up on the aged but still practica- 
ble garden-seat reading Shaw's " Common Sense of 
Municipal Trading." He came and leant over the 
back of the seat, and she looked up, said " Good 
morning. Isn't it perfectly lovely?" and indicated 
by a book still open that her interest in it remained 
alive. 

".What's the book, Magsy?" he asked, took it 
out of her slightly resisting hand, closed it and read 
the title. " Urn," he said ; " Isn't this a bit stiff for 
little women's brains?" 

All the rebel Marjories were up in arms at that. 

" Dreadful word, * Municipal.' I don't like it." 
He shook his head with a grimace of humorous dis- 
taste. 

" I suppose women have as good brains as men," 
said Marjorie, " if it comes to that." 

"Better," said Magnet. "That's why they 
shouldn't trouble about horrid things like Municipal 
and Trading. . . . On a day like this !" 



OUT OF THE SKY 113 

" Don't you think this sort of thing is inter- 
esting?" 

" Oh !" he said, and flourished the book. " Come ! 
And besides Shaw!" 

" He makes a very good case." 

" But he's such a mountebank." 

" Does that matter ? He isn't a mountebank 
there." 

" He's not sincere. I doubt if you had a serious 
book on Municipal Trading, Magsy, whether you'd 
make head or tail of it. It's a stiff subject. Shaw 
just gets his chance for a smart thing or so. . . . 
I'd rather you read a good novel." 

He really had the air of taking her reading in 
hand. 

" You think I ought not to read an intelligent 
book." 

" I think we ought to leave those things to the 
people who understand." 

" But we ought to understand." 

He smiled wisely. " There's a lot of things you 
have to understand," he said, " nearer home than 
this." 

Marjorie was ablaze now. " What a silly thing to 
say!" she cried, with an undergraduate's freedom. 
" Really, you are talking nonsense ! I read that book 
because it interests me. If I didn't, I should read 
something else. Do you mean to suggest that I'm 
reading like a child, who holds a book upside down?" 

She was so plainly angry that he was taken aback. 
" I don't mean to suggest " he began, and turned 
to greet the welcome presence, the interrogative eye 
of Mrs. Pope. 

" Here we are !" he said, " having a quarrel !" 

" Marjorie !" said Mrs. Pope. 



114 MARRIAGE 

" Oh, it's serious !" said Mr. Magnet, and added 
with a gleam : " It's about Municipal Trading !" 

Mrs. Pope knew the wicked little flicker in Mar- 
jorie's eye better than Mr. Magnet. She had known 
it from the nursery, and yet she had never quite mas- 
tered its meaning. She had never yet realized it was 
Marjorie, she had always regarded it as something 
Marjorie, some other Marjorie, ought to keep under 
control. So now she adopted a pacificatory tone. 

" Oh ! lovers' quarrels," she said, floating over the 
occasion. " Lovers' quarrels. You mustn't ask me 
to interfere !" 

Marjorie, already a little ashamed of her heat, 
thought for an instant she ought to stand that, and 
then decided abruptly with a return to choler that she 
would not do so. She stood up, and held out her hand 
for her book. 

" Mr. Magnet," she said to her mother with re- 
markable force and freedom as she took it, " has been 
talking unutterable nonsense. I don't call that a 
lovers' quarrel anyhow." 

Then, confronted with a double astonishment, and 
having no more to say, she picked up her skirt quite 
unnecessarily, and walked with a heavenward chin 
indoors. 

" I'm afraid," explained Mr. Magnet, " I was a 
little too free with one of Magsy's favourite authors." 

" Which is the favourite author now?" asked Mrs. 
Pope, after a reflective pause, with a mother's indul- 
gent smile. 

" Shaw." He raised amused eyebrows. " It's 
just the age, I suppose." 

" She's frightfully loyal while it lasts," said Mrs. 
Pope. " No one dare say a word against them." 

" I think it's adorable of her," said Mr. Magnet 
with an answering loyalty and gusto. 



OUT OF THE SKY 115 



The aviation accident occurred while Mrs. Pope, 
her two eldest daughters, and Mr. Magnet were play- 
ing golf-croquet upon the vicarage lawn. It was a 
serene, hot afternoon, a little too hot to take a game 
seriously, and the four little figures moved slowly 
over the green and grouped and dispersed as the game 
required. Mr. Magnet was very fond of golf-croquet, 
he displayed a whimsical humour and much invention 
at this game, it was not too exacting physically ; and 
he could make his ball jump ino the air in the absurd- 
est manner. Occasionally he won a laugh from Mar- 
jorie or Daffy. No one else was in sight ; the pseudo- 
twins and Theodore and Toupee were in the barn, and 
Mr. Pope was six miles away at Wamping, lying 
prone, nibbling grass blades and watching a county 
cricket match, as every good Englishman, who knows 
what is expected of him, loves to do. . . . Click 
went ball and mallet, and then after a long interval, 
click. It seemed incredible that anything could pos- 
sibly happen before tea. 

But this is no longer the world it was. Suddenly 
this tranquil scene was slashed and rent by the sound 
and vision of a monoplane tearing across the heavens. 

A purring and popping arrested Mr. Magnet in 
mid jest, and the monster came sliding up the sky 
over the trees beside the church to the east, already 
near enough to look big, a great stiff shape, big buff 
sails stayed with glittering wire, and with two odd 
little wheels beneath its body. It drove up the sky, 
rising with a sort of upward heaving, until the cro- 
quet players could see the driver and a passenger 
perched behind him quite clearly. It passed a little 
to the right of the church tower and only a few yards 
above the level of the flagstaff, there wasn't fifty feet 



116 MARRIAGE 

of clearance altogether, and as it did so Marjorie 
could see both driver and passenger making hasty 
movements. It became immense and over-shadowing, 
and every one stood rigid as it swept across the sun 
above the vicarage chimneys. Then it seemed to drop 
twenty feet or so abruptly, and then both the men 
cried out as it drove straight for the line of poplars 
between the shrubbery and the meadow. " Oh, oh, 
OH!" cried Mrs. Pope and Daffy. Evidently the 
aviator was trying to turn sharply; the huge thing 
banked, but not enough, and came about and slipped 
away until its wing was slashing into the tree tops 
with a thrilling swish of leaves and the snapping of 
branches and stays. 

" Run !" cried Magnet, and danced about the lawn, 
and the three ladies rushed sideways as the whole 
affair slouched down on them. It came on its edge, 
hesitated whether to turn over as a whole, then crum- 
pled, and amidst a volley of smashing and snapping 
came to rest amidst ploughed-up turf, a clamorous 
stench of petrol, and a cloud of dust and blue smoke 
within twenty yards of them. The two men had 
jumped to clear the engine, had fallen headlong, and 
were now both covered by the fabric of the shattered 
wing. 

It was all too spectacular for word or speech until 
the thing lay still. Even then the croquet players 
stood passive for awhile waiting for something to 
happen. It took some seconds to reconcile their minds 
to this sudden loss of initiative in a monster that had 
been so recently and threateningly full of go. It 
seemed quite a long time before it came into Mar- 
jorie's head that she ought perhaps to act in some 
way. She saw a tall young man wriggling on all 
fours from underneath the wreckage of fabric. He 
stared at her rather blankly. She went forward 



OUT OF THE SKY 117 

with a vague idea of helping him. He stood up, 
swayed doubtfully on his legs, turned, and became 
energetic, struggling mysteriously with the edge of 
the left wing. He gasped and turned fierce blue eyes 
over his shoulder. 

" Help me to hold the confounded thing up !" he 
cried, with a touch of irritation in his voice at her 
attitude. 

Marjorie at once seized the edge of the plane and 
pushed. The second man, in a peculiar button- 
shaped head-dress, was lying crumpled up under- 
neath, his ear and cheek were bright with blood, and 
there was a streak of blood on the ground near his 
head. 

" That's right. Can you hold it if I use only one 
hand?" 

Marjorie gasped " Yes," with a terrific weight as 
it seemed suddenly on her wrists. 

" Right O," and the tall young man had thrust 
himself backwards under the plane until it rested on 
his back, and collared the prostrate man. " Keep it 
up!" he said fiercely when Marjorie threatened to 
give way. He seemed to assume that she was there 
to obey orders, and with much grunting and effort 
he had dragged his companion clear of the wreckage. 

The man's face was a mass of blood, and he was 
sickeningly inert to his companion's lugging. 

" Let it go," said the tall young man, and Mar- 
jorie thanked heaven as the broken wing flapped 
down again. 

She came helpfully to his side, and became aware 
of Daffy and her mother a few paces off. Magnet * 
it astonished her was retreating hastily. But he 
had to go away because the sight of blood upset him 
so much that it was always wiser for him to go 
away. 



118 MARRIAGE 

"Is he hurt?" cried Mrs. Pope. 

" We both are," said the tall young man, and 
then as though these other people didn't matter and 
he and Marjorie were old friends, he said: " Can we 
turn him over?" 

" I think so." Marjorie grasped the damaged 
man's shoulder and got him over skilfully. 

" Will you get some water?" said the tall young 
man to Daffy and Mrs. Pope, in a way that sent 
Daffy off at once for a pail. 

" He wants water," she said to the parlour-maid 
who was hurrying out of the house. 

The tall young man had gone down on his knees 
by his companion, releasing his neck, and making a 
hasty first examination of his condition. " The pneu- 
matic cap must have saved his head," he said, throw- 
ing the thing aside. " Lucky he had it. He can't be 
badly hurt. Just rubbed his face along the ground. 
Silly thing to have come as we did." 

He felt the heart, and tried the flexibility of an 
arm. 

" That's all right," he said. 

He became judicial and absorbed over the prob- 
lems of his friend's side. " Um," he remarked. He 
knelt back and regarded Marjorie for the first time. 
" Thundering smash," he said. His face relaxed into 
an agreeable smile. " He only bought it last week." 

"Is he hurt?" 

" Rib, I think or two ribs perhaps. Stunned 
rather. All this just his nose." 

He regarded Marjorie and Marjorie him for a 
brief space. He became aware of Mrs. Pope on his 
right hand. Then at a clank behind, he turned round 
to see Daphne advancing with a pail of water. The 
two servants were now on the spot, and the odd- job 
man, and the old lady who did out the church, and 



OUT OF THE SKY 119 

Magnet hovered doubtfully in the distance. Sudden- 
ly with shouts and barks of sympathetic glee the 
pseudo-twins, Theodore and Toupee shot out of the 
house. New thoughts were stirring in the young 
aviator. He rose, wincing a little as he did so. " I'm 
afraid I'm a little rude," he said. 

" I do hope your friend isn't hurt," said Mrs. 
Pope, feeling the duty of a hostess. 

" He's not hurt much so far as I can see. 
Haven't we made rather a mess of your lawn?" 

" Oh, not at all!" said Mrs. Pope. 

" We have. If that is your gardener over there, 
it would be nice if he kept back the people who seem 
to be hesitating beyond those trees. There will be 
more presently. I'm afraid I must throw myself on 
your hands." He brojce into a chuckle for a moment. 
" I have, you know. Is it possible to get a doctor? 
My friend's not hurt so very much, but still he wants 
expert handling. He's Sir Rupert Solomonson, 
from " he jerked his head 1 back " over beyond 
Tunbridge Wells. My name's Trafford." 

" I'm Mrs. Pope and these are my daughters." 

Trafford bowed. " We just took the thing out 
for a lark," he said. 

Marjorie had been regarding the prostrate man. 
His mouth was a little open, and he showed beautiful 
teeth. Apart from the dry blood upon him he was 
not an ill-looking man. He was manifestly a Jew, a 
square-rigged Jew ( you have remarked of course that 
there are square-rigged Jews, whose noses are within 
bounds, and fore-and-aft Jews, whose noses aren't), 
with not so much a bullet-head as a round-shot, 
cropped like the head of a Capuchin monkey. Sud- 
denly she was down and had his head on her knee, 
with a quick movement that caught Trafford's eye. 
" He's better," she said. " His eyelids nickered. 
Daffy, bring the water." 



120 MARRIAGE 

She had felt a queer little repugnance at first with 
this helpless man, but now that professional nurse 
who lurks in the composition of so many women, was 
uppermost. " Give me your handkerchief," she said 
to Trafford, and with Daffy kneeling beside her and 
also interested, and Mrs. Pope a belated but more 
experienced and authoritative third, Sir Rupert was 
soon getting the best of attention. 

"Wathall ..." said Sir Rupert suddenly, 
and tried again : " Wathall." A third effort gave 
" Wathall about, eh?" 

" If we could get him into the shade," said 
Marjorie. 

" Woosh," cried Sir Rupert. " Weeeooo !" 

" That's all right," said Trafford. " It's only a 
rib or two." 

" Eeeeeyoooo !" said Sir Rupert. 

" Exactly. We're going to carry you out of the 
glare." 

" Don't touch me," said Sir Rupert. " Gooo." 

It took some little persuasion before Sir Rupert 
would consent to be moved, and even then he was for 
a time oh ! crusty. But presently Trafford and the 
two girls had got him into the shade of a large bush 
close to where in a circle of rugs and cushions the tea 
things lay prepared. There they camped. The help- 
ful odd- job man was ordered to stave off intruders 
from the village; water, towels, pillows were forth- 
coming. Mr. Magnet reappeared as tentative assist- 
ance, and Solomonson became articulate and brave 
and said he'd nothing but a stitch in his side. In his 
present position he wasn't at all uncomfortable. Only 
he didn't want any one near him. He enforced that 
by an appealing smile. The twins, invited to fetch 
the doctor, declined, proffering Theodore. They 
had conceived juvenile passions for the tall young 



OUT OF THE SKY 121 

man, and did not want to leave him. He certainly 
had a very nice face. So Theodore after walking 
twice round the wreckage, tore himself away and 
departed on Rom's bicycle. Enquiry centred on 
Solomonson for a time. His face, hair and neck 
were wet but no longer bloody, and he professed 
perfect comfort so long as he wasn't moved, and no 
one came too near him. He was very clear about 
that though perfectly polite, and scrutinized their 
faces to see if they were equally clear. Satisfied upon 
this point he closed his eyes and spoke no more. He 
looked then like a Capuchin monkey lost in pride. 
There came a pause. Every one was conscious of 
having risen to an emergency and behaved well under 
unusual circumstances. The young man's eye rested 
on the adjacent tea-things, lacking nothing but the 
coronation of the teapot. 

" Why not," he remarked, " have tea ?" 

" If you think your friend " began Mrs. 

Pope. 

"Oh! he's all right. Aren't you, Solomonson? 
There's nothing more now until the doctor." 

" Only want to be left alone," said Solomonson, 
and closed his heavy eyelids again. 

Mrs. Pope told the maids, with an air of dismissal, 
to get tea. 

" We can keep an eye on him," said Trafford. 

Marjorie surveyed her first patient with a pretty 
unconscious mixture of maternal gravity and girlish 
interest, and the twins to avoid too openly gloating 
upon the good looks of Trafford, chose places and 
secured cushions round the tea-things, calculating 
to the best of their ability how they might secure 
the closest proximity to him. Mr. Magnet and 
Toupee had gone to stare at the monoplane; they 
were presently joined by the odd- job man in an 



122 MARRIAGE 

interrogative mood. " Pretty complete smash, sir !" 
said the odd- job man, and then perceiving heads over 
the hedge by the churchyard, turned back to his duty 
of sentinel. Daffy thought of the need of more cups 
and plates and went in to get them, and Mrs. Pope 
remarked that she did hope Sir Rupert was not badly 
hurt. . . . 

" Extraordinary all this is," remarked Mr. Traf- 
ford. " Now, here we were after lunch, twenty miles 
away smoking cigars and with no more idea of hav- 
ing tea with you than I was going to say flying. 
But that's out of date now. Then we just thought 
we'd try the thing. . . . Like a dream." 

He addressed himself to Marjorie: "I never feel 
that life is quite real until about three days after 
things have happened. Never. Two hours ago I had 
not the slightest intention of ever flying again." 

" But haven't you flown before?" asked Mrs. 
Pope. 

" Not much. I did a little at Sheppey, but it's so 
hard for a poor man to get his hands on a machine. 
And here was Solomonson, with this thing in his 
hangar, eating its head off. " Let's take it out," I 
said, " and go once round the park. And here we 
are.) ... I thought it wasn't wise for him to 
come. . . ." 

Sir Rupert, without opening his eyes, was under- 
stood to assent. 

" Do you know," said Trafford, " The sight of 
your tea makes me feel frightfully hungry." 

"I don't think the engine's damaged?" he said 
cheerfully, " do you?" as Magnet joined them. " The 
ailerons are in splinters, and the left wing's not much 
better. But that's about all except the wheels. One 
falls so much lighter than you might suppose from 
the smash. . . . Lucky it didn't turn orer. Then, 



OUT OF THE SKY 123 

you know, the engine comes on the top of you, and 
you're done." 



The doctor arrived after tea, with a bag and a 
stethoscope in a small coffin-like box, and the Popes 
and Mr. Magnet withdrew while Sir Rupert was 
carefully sounded, tested, scrutinized, questioned, 
watched and examined in every way known to medical 
science. The outcome of the conference was pres- 
ently communicated to the Popes by Mr. Trafford 
and the doctor. Sir Rupert was not very seriously 
injured, but he was suffering from concussion and 
shock, two of his ribs were broken and his wrist 
sprained, unless perhaps one of the small bones was 
displaced. He ought to be bandaged up and put to 
bed. . . . 

" Couldn't we " said Mrs. Pope, but the doctor 
assured her his own house was quite the best place. 
There Sir Rupert could stay for some days. At 
present the cross-country journey over the Downs 
or by the South Eastern Railway would be needlessly 
trying and painful. He would with the Popes' 
permission lie quietly where he was for an hour or so, 
and then the doctor would come with a couple of men 
and a carrying bed he had, and take him off to his 
own house. There he would be, as Mr. Trafford said, 
" as right as ninepence," and Mr. Trafford could put 
up either at the Red Lion with Mr. Magnet or in the 
little cottage next door to the doctor. (Mr. Traf- 
ford elected for the latter as closer to his friend.) 
As for the smashed aeroplane, telegrams would be 
sent at once to Sir Rupert's engineers at Chesilbury, 
and they would have all that cleared away by midday 
to-morrow. 



124 MARRIAGE 

The doctor departed; Sir Rupert, after stimu- 
lants, closed his eyes, and Mr. Trafford seated him- 
self at the tea-things for some more cake, as though 
introduction by aeroplane was the most regular thing 
in the world. 

He had very pleasant and easy manners, an entire 
absence of self-consciousness, and a quick talkative 
disposition that made him very rapidly at home with 
everybody. He described all the sensations of flight, 
his early lessons and experiments, and in the utmost 
detail the events of the afternoon that had led to this 
disastrous adventure. He made his suggestion of 
" trying the thing " seem the most natural impulse 
in the world. The bulk of the conversation fell on 
him; Mr. Magnet, save for the intervention of one 
or two jests, was quietly observant; the rest were well 
disposed to listen. And as Mr. Trafford talked his 
eye rested ever and again on Marjorie with the 
faintest touch of scrutiny and perplexity, and she, 
too, found a curious little persuasion growing up in 
her mind that somewhere, somehow, she and he had 
met and had talked rather earnestly. But how and 
where eluded her altogether. . . . 

They had sat for an hour the men from the 
doctor's seemed never coming when Mr. Pope re- 
turned unexpectedly from his cricket match, which 
had ended a little prematurely in a rot on an over- 
dry wicket. He was full of particulars of the day's 
play, and how Wiper had got a most amazing catch 
and held it, though he fell; how Jenks had deliber- 
ately bowled at a man's head, he believed, and little 
Gibbs thrown a man out from slip. He was burning 
to tell all this in the utmost detail to Magnet and his 
family, so that they might at least share the retro- 
spect of his pleasure. He had thought out rather a 
good pun on Wiper, and he was naturally a little 



OUT OF THE SKY 125 

thwarted to find all this good, rich talk crowded' out 
by a more engrossing topic. 

At the sight of a stranger grouped in a popular 
manner beside the tea-things, he displayed a slight 
acerbity, which was if anything increased by the dis- 
covery of a prostrate person with large brown eyes 
and an expression of Oriental patience and disdain, 
in the shade of a bush near by. At first he seemed 
scarcely to grasp Mrs. Pope's explanations, and re- 
garded Sir Ruperb with an expression that bordered 
on malevolence. Then, when his attention was direct- 
ed to the smashed machine upon the lawn, he broke 
out into a loud indignant : " Good God ! What next?" 

He walked towards the wreckage, disregarding 
Mr. Trafford beside him. " A man can't go away 
from his house for an hour!" he complained. 

" I can assure you we did all we could to prevent 
it," said Trafford. 

" Ought never to have had it to prevent," said 
Mr. Pope. " Is your friend hurt?" 

" A rib and shock," said Trafford. 

" Well he deserves it," said Mr. Pope. " Rather 
than launch myself into the air in one of those in- 
fernal things, I'd be stood against a wall and shot." 

" Tastes differ, of course," said Trafford, with 
unruffled urbanity. 

" You'll have all this cleared away," said Mr. 
Pope. 

" Mechanics oh ! a complete break-down party 
are speeding to us in fast motors," said Trafford. 
" Thanks to the kindness of your domestic in taking 
a telegram for me." 

" Hope they won't kill any one," said Mr. Pope, 
and just for a moment the conversation hung fire. 
" And your friend ?" he asked. 



126 MARRIAGE 

" He goes in the next ten minutes well, whenever 
the litter comes from the doctor's. Poor old Solo- 
monson !" 

" Solomonson?" 

" Sir Rupert." 

" Oh !" said Mr. Pope. " Is that the Pigmenta- 
tion Solomonson?" 

" I believe he does do some beastly company of 
that sort," said Trafford. " Isn't it amazing we 
didn't smash our engine?" 

Sir Rupert Solomonson was indeed a familiar 
name to Mr. Pope. He had organized the exploita- 
tion of a number of pigment and bye-product patents, 
and the ordinary and deferred shares of his syndi- 
cate has risen to so high a price as to fill Mr. Pope 
with the utmost confidence in their future ; indeed he 
had bought considerably, withdrawing capital to do 
so from an Argentine railway whose stock had awak- 
ened his distaste and a sort of moral aversion by 
slumping heavily after a bad wheat and linseed har- 
vest. This discovery did much to mitigate his first 
asperity, his next remark to Trafford was almost 
neutral, and he was even asking Sir Rupert whether 
he could do anything to make him comfortable, when 
the doctor returned with a litter, borne by four has- 
tily compiled bearers. 



Some brightness seemed to vanish when the buoy- 
ant Mr. Trafford, still undauntedly cheerful, limped 
off after his more injured friend, and disappeared 
through the gate. Marjorie found herself in a world 
whose remaining manhood declined to see anything 
but extreme annoyance in this gay, exciting rupture 
of the afternoon. "Good God!" said Mr. Pope. 
"What next? What next?" 



OUT OF THE SKY 127 

" Registration, I hope," said Mr. Magnet, " and 
relegation to the desert of Sahara." 

" One good thing about it," said Mr. Pope " it 
all wastes petrol. And when the petrol supply gives 
out they're done." 

" Certainly we might all have been killed ! " said 
Mrs. Pope, feeling she had to bear her witness against 
their visitors, and added : " If we hadn't moved out 
of the way, that is." 

There was a simultaneous movement towards the 
shattered apparatus, about which a small contingent 
of villagers, who had availed themselves of the with- 
drawal of the sentinel, had now assembled. 

" Look at it !" said Mr. Pope, with bitter hostil- 
ity. " Look at it !" 

Everyone had anticipated his command. 

" They'll never come to anything," said Mr. 
Pope, after a pause of silent hatred. 

" But they have to come to something," said 
Marjorie. 

" They've come to smash !" said Mr. Magnet, 
with the true humorist's air. 

" But consider the impudence of this invasion, the 
wild- objectionableness of it!" 

" They're nasty things," said Mr. Magnet. 
" Nasty things !" 

A curious spirit of opposition stirred in Mar- 
jorie. It seemed to her that men who play golf-cro- 
quet and watch cricket matches have no business to 
contemn men who risk their lives in the air. She 
sought for some controversial opening. 

" Isn't the engine rather wonderful ?" she re- 
marked. 

Mr. Magnet regarded the engine with his head a 
little on one side. " It's the usual sort," he said. 

" There weren't engines like that twenty years 
ago." 



128 MARRIAGE 

" There weren't people like you twenty years 
ago," said Mr. Magnet, smiling wisely and kindly, 
and turned his back on the thing. 

Mr. Pope followed suit. He was filled with the 
bitter thought that he would never now be able to tell 
the history of the remarkable match he had witnessed. 
It was all spoilt for him spoilt for ever. Every- 
thing was disturbed and put out. 

" They've left us our tennis lawn," he said, with 
a not unnatural resentment passing to invitation. 
"What do you say, Magnet? Now you've begun 
the game you must keep it up?" 

" If Marjorie, or Mrs. Pope, or Daffy . . . ?" 
said Magnet. 

Mrs. Pope declared the house required her. And 
so with the gravest apprehensions, and an insincere 
compliment to their father's energy, Daffy and Mar- 
jorie made up a foursome for that healthy and in- 
vigorating game. But that evening Mr. Pope got 
his serve well into the bay of the sagging net almost 
at once, and with Marjorie in the background taking 
anything he left her, he won quite easily, and every- 
thing became pleasant again. Magnet gloated upon 
Marjorie and served her like a missionary giving 
Bibles to heathen children, he seemed always looking 
at her instead of the ball, and except for a slight 
disposition on the part of Daffy to slash, nothing 
could have been more delightful. And at supper Mr. 
Pope, rather crushing his wife's attempt to recapitu- 
late the more characteristic sayings and doings of 
Sir Rupert and his friend, did after all succeed in 
giving every one a very good idea indeed of the more 
remarkable incidents of the cricket match at Wamp- 
ing, and made the pun he had been accustomed to 
use upon the name of Wiper in a new and improved 
form. A general talk about cricket and the Im- 



OUT OF THE SKY 129 

mense Good of cricket followed. Mr. Pope said 
he would make cricket-playing compulsory for every 
English boy. 

Everyone it seemed to Marjorie was forgetting 
that dark shape athwart the lawn, and all the im- 
mense implication of its presence, with a deliberate 
and irrational skill, and she noted that the usual 
move towards the garden at the end of the evening 
was not made. 



In the night time Marjorie had a dream that she 
was flying about in the world on a monoplane with 
Mr. Trafford as a passenger. 

Then Mr. Trafford disappeared, and she was fly- 
ing about alone with a curious uneasy feeling that in 
a minute or so she would be unable any longer to 
manage the machine. 

Then her father and Mr. Magnet appeared very 
far below, walking about and disapproving of her. 
Mr. Magnet was shaking his head very, very sagely, 
and saying: " Rather a stiff job for little Marjorie," 
and her father was saying she would be steadier when 
she married. And then, she wasn't clear how, the 
engine refused to work until her bills were paid, and 
she began to fall, and fall, and fall towards Mr. 
Magnet. She tried frantically to pay her bills. She 
was falling down the fronts of skyscrapers and preci- 
pices and Mr. Magnet was waiting for her below 
with a quiet kindly smile that grew wider and wider 
and wider. . . . 

She woke up palpitating. 

A 
D 

Next morning a curious restlessness came upon 
Marjorie. Conceivably it was due to the absence of 



130 MARRIAGE 

Magnet, who had gone to London to deliver his long 
promised address on The Characteristics of English 
Humour to the Literati Club. Conceivably she miss- 
ed his attentions. But it crystallized out in the early 
afternoon into the oddest form, a powerful craving 
to go to the little town of Pensting, five miles off, on 
the other side of Buryhamstreet, to buy silk shoelaces. 

She decided to go in the donkey cart. She com- 
municated her intention to her mother, but she did 
not communicate an equally definite intention to be 
reminded suddenly of Sir Rupert Solomonson as she 
was passing the surgery, and make an inquiry on the 
spur of the moment it wouldn't surely be anything 
but a kindly and justifiable impulse to do that. She 
might see Mr. Trafford perhaps, but there was no 
particular harm in that. 

It is also to be remarked that finding Theodore a 
little disposed to encumber her vehicle with his pres- 
ence she expressed her delight at being released from 
the need of going, and abandoned the whole expedi- 
tion to him knowing as she did perfectly well that if 
Theodore hated anything more than navigating the 
donkey cart alone, it was going unprotected into a 
shop to buy articles of feminine apparel until he 
chucked the whole project and went fishing if one 
can call it fishing when there are no fish and the 
fisherman knows it in the decadent ornamental 
water. 

And it is also to be remarked that as Marjorie 
approached the surgery she was seized with an ab- 
surd and powerful shyness, so that not only did she 
not call at the surgery, she did not even look at the 
surgery, she gazed almost rigidly straight ahead, 
telling herself, however, that she merely deferred that 
kindly impulse until she had bought her laces. And 
SO it happened that about half a mile beyond the end 



OUT OF THE SKY 131 

of Buryhamstreet she came round a corner upon 
Trafford, and by a singular fatality he also was 
driving a donkey, or, rather, was tracing a fan-like 
pattern on the road with a donkey's hoofs. It was a 
very similar donkey to Marjorie's, but the vehicle 
was a governess cart, and much smarter than Mar- 
jorie's turn-out. His ingenuous face displayed great 
animation at the sight of her, and as she drew along- 
side he hailed her with an almost unnatural ease of 
manner. 

" Hullo !" he cried. " I'm taking the air. You 
seem to be able to drive donkeys forward. How do 
you do it? I can't. Never done anything so danger- 
ous in my life before. I've just been missed by two 
motor cars, and hung for a terrible minute with my 
left wheel on the very verge of an unfathomable 
ditch. I could hear the little ducklings far, far below, 
and bits of mould dropping. I tried to count before 
the splash. Aren't you white?" 

" But why are you doing it ?" 

" One must do something. I'm bandaged up and 
can't walk. It hurt my leg more than I knew your 
doctor says. Solomonson won't talk of anything but 
how he feels, and / don't care a rap how he feels. So 
I got this thing and came out with it." 

Marjorie made her inquiries. There came a little 
pause. 

" Some day no one will believe that men were ever 
so foolish as to trust themselves to draught animals," 
he remarked. " Hullo ! Look out ! The horror of 
it!" 

A large oil van a huge drum on wheels motor- 
driven, had come round the corner, and after a pre- 
liminary and quite insufficient hoot, bore down upon 
them, and missing Trafford as it seemed by a miracle, 
swept past. Both drivers did wonderful things with 



132 MARRIAGE 

whips and reins, and found themselves alone in the 
road again, with their wheels locked and an indefinite 
future. 

" I leave the situation to you," said Trafford. 
" Or shall we just sit and talk until the next motor 
car kills us ?" 

" We ought to make an effort," said Marjorie, 
cheerfully, and descended to lead the two beasts. 

Assisted by an elderly hedger, who had been tak- 
ing a disregarded interest in them for some time, she 
separated the wheels and got the two donkeys abreast. 
The old hedger's opinion of their safety on the king's 
highway was expressed by his action rather than his 
words; he directed the beasts towards a shady lane 
that opened at right angles to the road. He stood by 
their bridles while Marjorie resumed her seat. 

" It seems to me clearly a case for compromise," 
said Trafford. " You want to go that way, I want 
to go that way. Let us both go this way. It is by 
such arrangements that civilization becomes possible." 

He dismissed the hedger generously and resumed 
his reins. 

" Shall we race?" he asked. 

" With your leg?" she inquired. 

" No ; with the donkeys. I say, this is rather a 
lark. At first I thought it was both dangerous and 
dull. But things have changed. I am in beastly high 
spirits. I feel there will be a cry before night; but 

still, I am 1 wanted the companionship of an 

unbroken person. It's so jolly to meet you again." 

"Again?" 

" After the year before last." 

" After the year before last ?" 

" You didn't know," said Trafford, " I had met 
you before? How aggressive I must have seemed! 
Well, 7 wasn't quite clear. I spent the greater part 



OUT OF THE SKY 133 

of last night my ankle being foolish in the small 
hours in trying to remember how and where." 

" I don't remember," said Marjorie. 

" I remembered you very distinctly, and some 
things I thought about you, but not where it had 
happened. Then in the night I got it. It is a puz- 
zle, isn't it? You see, I was wearing a black gown, 
and I had been out of the sunlight for some months 
- and my eye, I remember it acutely, was bandaged. 
I'm usually bandaged somewhere. 
' I was a King in Babylon 
And you were a Christian slave' 

I mean a candidate." 

Marjorie remembered suddenly. " You're Pro- 
fessor Trafford." 

" Not in this atmosphere. But I am at the Rome- 
ike College. And as soon as I recalled examining 
you I remembered it minutely. You were intelli- 
gent, though unsound about cryo-hydrates it was. 
Ah, you remember me now. As most young women 
are correct by rote and unintelligent in such ques- 
tions, and as it doesn't matter a rap about anything 
of that sort, whether you are correct or not, as long 

as the mental gesture is right " He paused for a 

moment, as though tired of his sentence. " I remem- 
bered you." 

He proceeded in his easy and detached manner, 
that seemed to make every topic possible, to tell her 
his first impressions of her, and show how very dis- 
tinctly indeed he remembered her. 

" You set me philosophizing. I'd never examined 
a girls' school before, and I was suddenly struck by 
the spectacle of the fifty of you. What's going to 
become of them all?" 

" I thought," he went on, " how bright you were, 
and how keen and eager you were you, I mean, in 



134 MARRIAGE 

particular and just how certain it was your bright- 
ness and eagerness would be swallowed up by some 
silly ordinariness or other stuffy marriage or stuffy 
domestic duties. The old, old story done over again 
with a sort of threadbare badness. (Nothing to say 
against it if it's done well.) I got quite sentimental 
and pathetic about life's breach of faith with women. 
Odd, isn't it, how one's mind runs on. But that's 
what I thought. It's all come back to me." 

Marjorie's bright, clear eye came round to him. 
" I don't see very much wrong with the lot of wo- 
men," she reflected. " Things are different nowa- 
days. Anyhow " 

She paused. 

" You don't want to be a man?" 

" No!" 

She was emphatic. 

" Some of us cut more sharply at life than you 
think," he said, plumbing her unspoken sense. 

She had never met a man before who understood 
just how a girl can feel the slow obtuseness of his sex. 
It was almost as if he had found her out at something. 

" Oh," she said, " perhaps you do," and looked 
at him with an increased interest. 

" I'm half-feminine, I believe," he said. " For 
instance, I've got just a woman's joy in textures and 
little significant shapes. I know how you feel about 
that. I can spend hours, even now, in crystal gazing 
I don't mean to see some silly revelation of some 
silly person's proceedings somewhere, but just for the 
things themselves. I wonder if you have ever been in 
the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, 
and looked at Ruskin's crystal collection? I saw it 
when I was a boy, and it became I can't help the 
word an obsession. The inclusions like moss and 
like trees, and all sorts of fantastic things, and the 



OUT OF THE SKY 135 

cleavages and enclosures with little bubbles, and the 
lights and shimmer What were we talking about? 
Oh, about the keen way your feminine perceptions 
cut into things. And yet somehow I was throwing 
contempt on the feminine intelligence. I don't do 
justice to the order of my thoughts. Never mind. 
We've lost the thread. But I wish you knew my 
mother." 

He went on while Marjorie was still considering 
the proper response to this. 

" You see, I'm her only son and she brought me 
up, and we know each other oh! very well. She 
helps with my work. She understands nearly all of it. 
She makes suggestions. And to this day I don't 
know if she's the most original or the most parasitic 
of creatures. And that's the way with all women and 
girls, it seems to me. You're as critical as light, and 
as undiscriminating. ... I say, do I strike you as 
talking nonsense?" 

" Not a bit," said Marjorie. " But you do go 
rather fast." 

" I know," he admitted. " But somehow you 
excite me. I've been with Solomonson a week, and 
he's dull at all times. It was that made me take out 
that monoplane of his. But it did him no good." 

He paused. 

" They told me after the exam.," said Marjorie, 
" you knew more about crystallography than any- 
one." 

" Does that strike you as a dull subject?" 

" No," said Marjorie, in a tone that invited jus- 
tifications. 

" It isn't. I think naturally, that the world one 
goes into when one studies molecular physics is quite 
the most beautiful of Wonderlands. ... I can 
assure you I work sometimes like a man who is ex- 



136 MARRIAGE 

ploring a magic palace. . . . Do you know any- 
thing of molecular physics?" 

" You examined me," said Mar j orie. 

" The sense one has of exquisite and wonderful 
rhythms just beyond sound and sight ! And there's 
a taunting suggestion of its being all there, displayed 
and confessed, if only one were quick enough to see 
it. Why, for instance, when you change the compo- 
sition of a felspar almost imperceptibly, do the 
angles change? What's the correspondence between 
the altered angle and the substituted atom? Why 
does this bit of clear stuff swing the ray of light so 
much out of its path, and that swing it more? Then 
what happens when crystals gutter down, and go 
into solution. The endless launching of innumerable 
little craft. Think what a clear solution must be if 
only one had ultra-microscopic eyes and could see 
into it, see the extraordinary patternings, the swim- 
ming circling constellations. And then the path of 
a ray of polarized light beating through it ! It takes 
me like music. Do you know anything of the effects 
of polarized light, the sight of a slice of olivine- 
gabbro for instance between crossed Nicols?" 

" I've seen some rock sections," said Marjorie. 
*' I forget the names of the rocks." 

"The colours?" 

" Oh yes, the colours." 

" Is there anything else so rich and beautiful in 
all the world? And every different mineral and every 
variety of that mineral has a different palette of 
colours, a different scheme of harmonies and is 
telling you something." 

" If only you understood." 

" Exactly. All the ordinary stuff of life you 
know the carts and motor cars and dusty roads and 
cinder sifting, seems so blank to me with that 



OUT OF THE SKY 137 

persuasion of swing and subtlety beneath it all. As 
if the whole world was fire and crystal and aquiver 
with some sort of cotton wrappers thrown txver 
it. . . ." 

" Dust sheets," said Marjorie. " I know." 

" Or like a diamond painted over !" 

" With that sort of grey paint, very full of body 
that lasts." 

" Yes." He smiled at her. " I can't help apolo- 
getics. Most people think a professor of science is 
just " 

" A professor of science." 

" Yes. Something all pedantries and phrases. I 
want to clear my character. As though it is foolish 
to follow a vortex ring into a vacuum, and wise to 
whack at a dirty golf ball on a suburban railway 
bank. Oh, their golf! Under high heaven! . . . 
You don't play golf, do you, by any chance?" 

" Only the woman's part," said Marjorie. 

" And they despise us," he said. " Solomonson 
can hardly hide how he despises us. Nothing is more 
wonderful than the way these people go on despising 
us who do research, who have this fever of curiosity, 
who won't be content with what did you call those 
wrappers ?" 

" Dust sheets." 

" Yes, dust sheets. What a life ! Swaddling 
bands, dust sheets and a shroud! You know, re- 
search and discovery aren't nearly so difficult as 
people think if only you have the courage to say 
a thing or try a thing now and then that it isn't 

usual to say or try. And after all " he went off 

at a tangent, " these confounded ordinary people 
aren't justified in their contempt. We keep on 
throwing them things over our shoulders, electric 
bells, telephones, Marconigrams. Look at the beau- 



138 MARRIAGE 

tiful electric trams that come towering down the 
London streets at nightfall, ships of light in full 
sail! Twenty years ago they were as impossible as 
immortality. We conquer the seas for these gol- 
fers, puts arms in their hands that will certainly 
blow them all to bits if ever the idiots go to war 
with them, come sailing out of the air on them " 

He caught Marjorie's eye and stopped. 

" Falling out of the air on them," corrected Mar- 
jorie very softly. 

" That was only an accident," said Mr. Traf- 
ford. . . . 

So they began a conversation in the lane where 
the trees met overhead that went on and went on like 
a devious path in a shady wood, and touched upon 
all manner of things. . . . 



In the end quite a number of people were ag- 
grieved by this dialogue, in the lane that led no- 
whither. . . . 

Sir Rupert Solomonson was the first to complain. 
Trafford had been away " three mortal hours." No 
one had come near him, not a soul, and there hadn't 
been even a passing car to cheer his ear. 

Sir Rupert admitted he had to be quiet. " But 
not so damned quiet." 

" I'd have been glad," said Sir Rupert, " if a hen 
had laid an egg and clucked a bit. You might have 
thought there had been a Resurrection or somethin', 
and cleared off everybody. Lord ! it was deadly. I'd 
have sung out myself if it hadn't been for these in- 
fernal ribs. ..." 

Mrs. Pope came upon the affair quite by accident. 

" Well, Mar j one," she said as she poured tea for 
the family, " did you get your laces ?" 



OUT OF THE SKY 139 

"Never got there, Mummy," said Marjorie, and 
paused fatally. 

" Didn't get there !" said Mrs. Pope. " That's 
worse than Theodore! Wouldn't the donkey go, 
poor dear?" 

There was nothing to colour about, and yet Mar- 
jorie felt the warm flow in neck and cheek and brow. 
She threw extraordinary quantities of candour into 
her manner. " I had a romantic adventure," she 
said rather quietly. " I was going to tell you." 

(Sensation.) 

"You see it was like this," said Marjorie. "I 
ran against Mr. Trafford. ..." 

She drank tea, and pulled herself together for a 
lively description of the wheel-locking and the sub- 
sequent conversation, a bright ridiculous account 
which made the affair happen by implication on the 
high road and not in a byeway, and was adorned 
with every facetious ornament that seemed likely to 
get a laugh from the children. But she talked rather 
fast, and she felt she forced the fun a little. How- 
ever, it amused the children all right, and Theodore 
created a diversion by choking with his tea. From 
first to last Marjorie was extremely careful to avoid 
the affectionate scrutiny of her mother's eye. And 
had this lasted the whole afternoon? asked Mrs. 
Pope. Oh, they'd talked for half-an-hour," said 
Marjorie, or more, and had driven back very slowly 
together. " He did all the talking. You saw what 
he was yesterday. And the donkeys seemed too 
happy together to tear them away." 

" But what was it all about ?" asked Daffy 
curious. 

" He asked after you, Daffy, most affectionately," 
said Marjorie, and added, " several times." (Though 
Trafford had as a matter of fact displayed a quite 
remarkable disregard of all her family.) 



140 MARRIAGE 

" And/' she went on, getting a plausible idea at 
_ast," " he explained all about aeroplanes. And all 
that sort of thing. Has Daddy gone to Wamping 
for some more cricket? ..." 

(But none of this was lost on Mrs. Pope.) 

8 ft 

Mr. Magnet's return next day was heralded by 
nearly two-thirds of a column in the Times. 

The Lecture on the Characteristics of Humour 
had evidently been quite a serious affair, and a very 
imposing list of humorists and of prominent people 
associated with their industry had accepted the hos- 
pitality of the Literati. 

Marjorie ran her eyes over the Chairman's flat- 
tering introduction, then with a queer faint flavour 
of hostility she reached her destined husband's utter- 
ance. She seemed to hear the flat full tones of his 
voice as she read, and automatically the desiccated 
sentences of the reporter filled out again into those 
rich quietly deliberate unfoldings of sound that were 
already too familiar to her ear. 

Mr. Magnet had begun with modest disavowals. 
" There was a story, he said," so the report began 
" whose hallowed antiquity ought to protect it 
from further exploitation, but he was tempted to 
repeat it because it offered certain analogies to the 
present situation. There were three characters in 
the story, a bluebottle and two Scotsmen. (Laugh- 
ter.) The bluebottle buzzed on the pane, otherwise a 
profound silence reigned. This was broken by one 
of the Scotsmen trying to locate the bluebottle with 
zoological exactitude. Said this Scotsman : * Sandy, 
I am thinking if yon fly is a birdie or a beastie.' The 
other replied : * Man, don't spoil good whiskey with 
religious conversation.' (Laughter.) He was 



OUT OF THE SKY 141 

tempted, Mr. Magnet resumed, to ask himse.f and 
them why it was that they should spoil the after- 
effects of a most excellent and admirably served din- 
ner by an academic discussion on British humour. 
At first he was pained by the thought that they 
proposed to temper their hospitality with a demand 
for a speech. A closer inspection showed that he 
was to introduce a debate and that others were to 
speak, and that was a new element in their hospital- 
ity. Further, he was permitted to choose the subject 
so that he could bring their speeches within the 
range of his comprehension. (Laughter.) His was 
an easy task. He could make it easier; the best 
thing to do would be to say nothing at all. (Laugh- 
ter.)" 

For a space the reporter seemed to have omitted 
largely perhaps he was changing places with his 
relief and the next sentence showed Mr. Magnet 
engaged as it were in revising a hortus siccus of 
jokes. " There was the humour of facts and situa- 
tions," he was saying, " or that humour of expres- 
sion for which there was no human responsibility, 
as in the case of Irish humour; he spoke of the hu- 
mour of the soil which found its noblest utterance in 
the bull. Humour depended largely on contrast. 
There was a humour of form and expression which 
had many local varieties. American humour had 
been characterized by exaggeration, the suppression 
of some link in the chain of argument or narrative, 
and a wealth of simile and metaphor which had been 
justly defined as the poetry of a pioneer race." . . . 

Marjorie's attention slipped its anchor, and 
caught lower down upon : " In England there was a 
near kinship between laughter and tears ; their men- 
tal relations were as close as their physical. Abroad 
this did not appear to be the case. It was different 



142 MARRIAGE 

in France. But perhaps on the whole it would be 
better to leave the humour of France and what some 
people still unhappily chose to regard as matters 
open to controversy he referred to choice of sub- 
ject out of their discussion altogether. (' Hear, 
hear,' and cheers.)" . 

Attention wandered again. Then she remarked: 
it reminded her in some mysterious way of a drop- 
ped hairpin " It was noticeable that the pun to a 
great extent had become demode. . . . 

At this point the flight of Marjorie's eyes down 
the column was arrested by her father's hand gently 
but firmly taking possession of the Times. She yield- 
ed it without reluctance, turned to the breakfast 
table, and never resumed her study of the social 
relaxations of humorists. . . . 

Indeed she forgot it. Her mind was in a state of 
extreme perplexity. She didn't know what to make 
of herself or anything or anybody. Her mind was 
full of Trafford and all that he had said and done 
and all that he might have said and done, and it was 
entirely characteristic that she could not think of 
Magnet in any way at all except as a bar-like shadow 
that lay across all her memories and all the bright 
possibilities of this engaging person. 

She thought particularly of the mobile animation 
of his face, the keen flash of enthusiasm in his 
thoughts and expressions. . . . 

It was perhaps more characteristic of her time 
than of her that she did not think she was dealing 
so much with a moral problem as an embarrassment, 
and that she hadn't as yet felt the first stirrings of 
self-reproach for the series of disingenuous proceed- 
ings that had rendered the yesterday's encounter 
possible. But she was restless, wildly restless as a 
bird whose nest is taken. She could abide nowhere. 



OUT OF THE SKY 143 

She fretted through the morning, avoided Daffy in a 
marked manner, and inflicted a stinging and only 
partially merited rebuke upon Theodore for slouch- 
ing, humping and of all trite grievances ! not 
washing behind his ears. As if any chap washed 
behind his ears ! She thought tennis with the pseudo- 
twins might assuage her, but she broke off after los- 
ing two sets ; and then she went into the garden to 
get fresh flowers, and picked a large bunch and left 
them on the piano until her mother reminded her of 
them. She tried a little Shaw. She struggled with 
an insane wish to walk through the wood behind the 
village and have an accidental meeting with some- 
one who couldn't possibly appear but whom it would 
be quite adorable to meet. Anyhow she conquered 
that. 

She had a curious and rather morbid indisposi- 
tion to go after lunch to the station and meet Mr. 
Magnet as her mother wished her to do, in order to 
bring him straight to the vicarage to early tea, but 
here again reason prevailed and she went. 

Mr. Magnet arrived by the 2.27, and to Mar- 
jorie's eye his alighting presence had an effect of 
being not so much covered with laurels as distended 
by them. His face seemed whiter and larger than 
ever. He waved a great handful of newspapers. 

" Hullo, Magsy !" he said. " They've given me a 
thumping Press. I'm nearer swelled head than I've 
ever been, so mind how you touch me !" 

" We'll take it down at croquet," said Marjorie. 

" They've cleared that thing away ?" 

" And made up the lawn like a billiard table," 
she said. 

" That makes for skill," he said waggishly. " I 
shall save my head after all." 

For a moment he seemed to loom towards kissing 



144 MARRIAGE 

her, but she averted this danger by a business-like 
concern for his bag. He entrusted this to a porter, 
and reverted to the triumph of over-night so soon as 
they were clear of the station. He was overflowing 
with kindliness towards his fellow humorists, who had 
appeared in force and very generously at the ban- 
quet, and had said the most charming things some 
of which were in one report and some in another, and 
some the reporters had missed altogether some of 
the kindliest. 

" It's a pleasant feeling to think that a lot of 
good fellows think you are a good fellow," said Mr. 
Magnet. 

He became solicitous for her. How had she got 
on while he was away? She asked him how one was 
likely to get on at Buryhamstreet ; monoplanes didn't 
fall every day, and as she said that it occurred to her 
she was behaving meanly. But he was going on to his 
next topic before she could qualify. 

" I've got something in my pocket," he remarked, 
and playfully : " Guess." 

She did, but she wouldn't. She had a curious 
sinking of the heart. 

" I want you to see it before anyone else," he 
said. " Then if you don't like it, it can go back. It's 
a sapphire." 

He was feeling nervously in his pockets and then 
the little box was in her hand. 

She hesitated to open it. It made everything so 
dreadfully concrete. And this time the sense of 
meanness was altogether acuter. He'd bought this in 
London; he'd brought it down, hoping for her ap- 
proval. Yes, it was horrid. But what was she 
to do? 

" It's awfully pretty," she said with the glitter- 
ing symbol in her hand, and indeed he had gone to 



OUT OF THE SKY 145 

one of those artistic women who are reviving and 
improving upon the rich old Roman designs. " It's 
so beautifully made." 

" I'm so glad you like it. You really do like it?" 

" I don't deserve it." 

"Oh! But you Jo like it?" 

" Enormously." 

" Ah ! I spent an hour in choosing it." 

She could see him. She felt as though she had 
picked his pocket. 

" Only I don't deserve it, Mr. Magnet. Indeed 
I don't. I feel I am taking it on false pretences." 

" Nonsense, Magsy. Nonsense ! Slip it on your 
finger, girl." 

" But I don't," she insisted. 

He took the box from her, pocketed it and seized 
her hand. She drew it away from him. 

" No !" she said. " I feel like a cheat. You know, 
I don't I'm sure I don't love " 

" I'll love enough for two," he said, and got her 
hand again. " No !" he said at her gesture, " you'll 
wear it. Why shouldn't you?" 

And so Marjorie came back along the vicarage 
avenue with his ring upon her hand. And Mr. Pope 
was evidently very glad to see him. . . . 

The family was still seated at tea upon rugs 
and wraps, and still discussing humorists at play, 
when Professor Trafford appeared, leaning on a 
large stick and limping, but resolute, by the church 
gate. "Pish!" said Mr. Pope. Marjorie tried not 
to reveal a certain dismay, there was dumb, rich ap- 
proval in Daphne's eyes, and the pleasure of Theo- 
dore and the pseudo-twins was only too scandalously 
evident. " Hoo-Ray !" said Theodore, with ill-con- 
cealed relief. 



146 MARRIAGE 

Mrs. Pope was the incarnate invocation of tact 
as Trafford drew near. 

" I hope," he said, with obvious insincerity, " I 
don't invade you. But Solomonson is frightfully 
concerned and anxious about your lawn, and whether 
his men cleared it up properly and put things right." 
His eye went about the party and rested on Mar- 
jorie. " How are you?" he said, in a friendly voice. 

" Well, we seem to have got our croquet lawn 
back," said Mr. Pope. " And our nerves are re- 
covering. How is Sir Rupert?" 

" A little fractious," said Trafford, with the 
ghost of a smile. 

"You'll take some tea?" said Mrs. Pope in the 
pause that followed. 

" Thank you," said Trafford and sat down in- 
stantly. 

"I saw your jolly address in the Standard," he 
said to Magnet. " I haven't read anything so amus- 
ing for some time." 

" Rom dear," said Mrs. Pope, " will you take the 
pot in and get some fresh tea?" 

Mr. Trafford addressed himself to the flattery of 
Magnet with considerable skill. He had detected a 
lurking hostility in the eyes of the two gentlemen 
that counselled him to propitiate them if he meant 
to maintain his footing in the vicarage, and now he 
talked to them almost exclusively and ignored the 
ladies modestly but politely in the way that seems 
natural and proper in a British middle-class house 
of the better sort. But as he talked chiefly of the 
improvement of motor machinery that had recently 
been shown at the Engineering Exhibition, he did 
not make that headway with Marjorie's father that 
he had perhaps anticipated. Mr. Pope fumed quiet- 
ly for a time, and then suddenly spoke out. 



OUT OF THE SKY 147 

" I'm no lover of machines," he said abruptly, 
slashing across Mr. Trafford's description. " All 
our troubles began with villainous saltpetre. I'm 
an old-fashioned man with a nose and a neck, and 
I don't want the one offended or the other broken. 
No, don't ask me to be interested in your valves and 
cylinders. What do you say, Magnet? It starts 
machinery in my head to hear about them. . . ." 

On such occasions as this when Mr. Pope spoke 
out, his horror of an anti-climax or any sort of con- 
tradication was apt to bring the utterance to a cul- 
mination not always to be distinguished from a 
flight. And now he rose to his feet as he delivered 
himself. 

" Who's for a game of tennis ?" he said, " in 
this last uncontaminated patch of air? I and Mar- 
jorie will give you a match, Daffy if Magnet isn't 
too tired to join you." 

Daffy looked at Marjorie for an instant. 

" We'll want you, Theodore, to look after the 
balls in the potatoes," said Mr. Pope lest that in- 
genuous mind should be corrupted behind his back. . . 

Mrs. Pope found herself left to entertain a 
slightly disgruntled Trafford. Rom and Syd hov- 
ered on the off chance of notice, at the corner of the 
croquet lawn nearest the tea things. Mrs. Pope had 
already determined to make certain little matters 
clearer than they appeared to be to this agreeable 
but superfluous person, and she was greatly assisted 
by his opening upon the subject of her daughters. 
" Jolly tennis looks," he said. 

"Don't they?" said Mrs. Pope. "I think it is 
such a graceful game for a girl." 

Mr. Trafford glanced at Mrs. Pope's face, but 
her expression was impenetrable. 

" They both like it and play it so well," she 



148 MARRIAGE 

said. " Their father is so skillful and interested in 
games. Marjorie tells me you were her examiner 
a year or so ago." 

" Yes. She struck my memory her work stood 
out." 

" Of course she is clever," said Mrs. Pope. " Or 
we shouldn't have sent her to Oxbridge. There she's 
doing quite well quite well. Everyone says so. I 
don't know, of course, if Mr. Magnet will let her 
finish there." 

" Mr. Magnet?" 

" She's just engaged to him. Of course she's 
frightfully excited about it, and naturally he wants 
her to come away and marry. There's very little 
excuse for a long engagement. No." 

Her voice died in a musical little note, and she 
seemed to be scrutinizing the tennis with an absorbed 
interest. " They've got new balls," she said, as if to 
herself. 

Trafford had rolled over, and she fancied she 
detected a change in his voice when it came. " Isn't 
it rather a waste not to finish a university career?" 
he said. 

" Oh, it wouldn't be wasted. Of course a girl 
like that will be hand and glove with her husband. 
She'll be able to help him with the scientific side of 
his jokes and all that. I sometimes wish it had been 
Daffy who had gone to college though. I sometimes 
think we've sacrificed Daffy a little. She's not the 
bright quickness of Marjorie, but there's something 
quietly solid about her mind something stable. Per- 
haps I didn't want her to go away from me. . . . 
Mr. Magnet is doing wonders at the net. He's just 
begun to play to please Marjorie. Don't you 
think he's a dreadfully amusing man, Mr. Trafford? 
He says such quiet things." 



OUT OF THE SKY 149 

9 

The effect of this eclaircissement upon Mr. Traf- 
ford was not what it should have been. Properly he 
ought to have realized at once that Marjorie was 
for ever beyond his aspirations, and if he found it 
too difficult to regard her with equanimity, then he 
ought to have shunned her presence. But instead, 
after his first shock of incredulous astonishment, his 
spirit rose in a rebellion against arranged facts 
that was as un-English as it was ungentlemanly. He 
went back to Solomonson with a mood of thoughtful 
depression giving place to a growing passion of 
indignation. He presented it to himself in a general- 
ized and altruistic form. " What the deuce is the 
good of all this talk of Eugenics," he asked himself 
aloud, " if they are going to hand over that shining 
girl to that beastly little area sneak?" 

He called Mr. Magnet a " beastly little area 
sneak !" 

Nothing could show more clearly just how much 
he had contrived to fall in love with Marjorie during 
his brief sojourn in Buryhamstreet and the acute- 
ness of his disappointment, and nothing could be 
more eloquent of his forcible and undisciplined tem- 
perament. And out of ten thousand possible abusive 
epithets with which his mind was no doubt stored, 
this one, I think, had come into his head because of 
the alert watchfulness with which Mr. Magnet fol- 
lowed a conversation, as he waited his chance for 
some neat but brilliant flash of comment. . . . 

Trafford, like Marjorie, was another of those un- 
disciplined young people our age has produced in 
such significant quantity. He was just six-and- 
twenty, but the facts that he was big of build, had 
as an only child associated much with grown-up peo- 



150 MAHRIAGE 

pie, and was already a conspicuous success in the 
world of micro-chemical research, had given him the 
self-reliance and assurance of a much older man. He 
had still to come his croppers and learn most of the 
important lessons in life, and, so far, he wasn't 
aware of it. He was naturally clean-minded, very 
busy and interested in his work, and on remarkably 
friendly and confidential terms with his mother who 
kept house for him, and though he had had several 
small love disturbances, this was the first occasion 
that anything of the kind had ploughed deep into 
his feelings and desires. 

Trafford's father had died early in life. He had 
been a brilliant pathologist, one of that splendid 
group of scientific investigators in the middle Victo- 
rian period which shines ever more brightly as our 
criticism dims their associated splendours, and he 
had died before he was thirty through a momentary 
slip of the scalpel. His wife she had been his wife 
for five years found his child and his memory and 
the quality of the life he had made about her too 
satisfying for the risks of a second marriage, and she 
had brought up her son with a passionate belief in 
the high mission of research and the supreme duty 
of seeking out and expressing truth finely. And 
here he was, calling Mr. Magnet a " beastly little 
area sneak." 

The situation perplexed him. Marjorie perplex- 
ed him. It was, had he known it, the beginning for 
him of a lifetime of problems and perplexities. He 
was absolutely certain she didn't love Magnet. Why, 
then, had she agreed to marry him? Such pressures 
and temptations as he could see about her seemed 
light to him in comparison with such an under- 
taking. 

Were they greater than he supposed? 



OUT OF THE SKY 151 

His method of coming to the issue of that prob- 
lem was entirely original. He presented himself 
next afternoon with the air of an invited guest, 
drove Mr. Pope who was suffering from liver, to ex- 
postulatory sulking in the study, and expressed a 
passionate craving for golf-croquet, in spite of Mrs. 
Pope's extreme solicitude for his still bandaged 
ankle. He was partnered with Daffy, and for a 
long time he sought speech with Marjorie in vain. 
At last he was isolated in a corner of the lawn, and 
with the thinnest pretence of inadvertence, in spite 
of Daffy's despairing cry of " She plays next !" he 
laid up within two yards of her. He walked across 
to her as she addressed herself to her ball, and 
speaking in an incredulous tone and with the air of 
a comment on the game, he said : " I say, are you 
engaged to that chap Magnet?" 

Marjorie was amazed, but remarkably not of- 
fended. Something in his tone set her trembling. 
She forgot to play, and stood with her mallet hang- 
ing in her hand. 

"Punish him!" came the voice of Magnet from 
afar. 

" Yes," she said faintly. 

His remark came low and clear. It had a note of 
angry protest. " Why?" 

Marjorie, by the way of answer, hit her ball so 
that it jumped and missed his, ricochetted across the 
lawn and out of the ground on the further side. 

" I'm sorry if I've annoyed you," said Trafford, 
as Marjorie went after her ball, and Daffy thanked 
heaven aloud for the respite. 

They came together no more for a time, and 
Trafford, observant with every sense, found no clue 
to the riddle of her grave, intent bearing. She played 
very badly, and with unusual care and delibera- 



152 MARRIAGE 

tion. He felt he had made a mess of things alto- 
gether, and suddenly found his leg was too painful 
to go on. " Partner," he asked, " will you play out 
my ball for me? I can't go on. I shall have to go." 

Marjorie surveyed him, while Daffy and Magnet 
expressed solicitude. He turned to go, mallet in hand, 
and found Marjorie following him. 

" Is that the heavier mallet ?" she asked, and stood 
before him looking into his eyes and weighing a mal- 
let in either hand. 

" Mr. Trafford, you're one of the worst examin- 
ers I've ever met," she said. 

He looked puzzled. 

" I don't know why" said Marjorie, " I wonder 
as much as you. But I am"; and seeing the light 
dawning in his eyes, she turned about, and went 
back to the debacle of her game. 

10 

After that Mr. Trafford had one clear desire in 
his being which ruled all his other desires. He wanted 
a long, frank, unembarrassed and uninterrupted con- 
versation with Marjorie. He had a very strong im- 
pression that Marjorie wanted exactly the same 
thing. For a week he besieged the situation in vain. 
After the fourth day Solomonson was only kept in 
Buryhamstreet by sheer will-power, exerted with a 
brutality that threatened to end that friendship 
abruptly. He went home on the sixth day in his 
largest car, but Trafford stayed on beyond the limits 
of decency to perform some incomprehensible service 
that he spoke of as " clearing up." 
" I want," he said, " to clear up." 
" But what is there to clear up, my dear boy ?" 
" Solomonson, you're a pampered plutocrat," 
said Trafford, as though everything was explained. 



OUT OF THE SKY 153 

" I don't see any sense in it at all," said' Solomon- 
son, and regarded his friend aslant with thick, black 
eyebrows raised. 

" I'm going to stay," said Trafford. 

And Solomonson said one of those unhappy and 
entirely disregarded things that ought never to be 
said. 

" There's some girl in this," said Solomonson. 

" Your bedroom's always waiting for you at Rip- 
lings," he said, when at last he was going off. . . . 

Trafford's conviction that Marjorie also wanted, 
with an almost equal eagerness, the same opportunity 
for speech and explanations that he desired, sustain- 
ed him in a series of unjustifiable intrusions upon 
the seclusion of the Popes. But although the manner 
of Mr. and Mrs. Pope did change considerably for 
the better after his next visit, it was extraordinary 
how impossible it seemed for him and Marjorie to 
achieve their common end of an encounter. 

Always something intervened. 

In the first place, Mrs. Pope's disposition to opti- 
mism had got the better of her earlier discretions, 
and a casual glance at Daphne's face when their 
visitor reappeared started quite a new thread of 
interpretations in her mind. She had taken the 
opportunity of hinting at this when Mr. Pope asked 
over his shirt-stud that night, " What the devil that 
that chauffeur chap meant by always calling in 
the afternoon." 

" Now that Will Magnet monopolizes Marjorie," 
she said, after a little pause and a rustle or so, " I 
don't see why Daffy shouldn't have a little company 
of her own age." 

Mr. Pope turned round and stared at her. " I 
didn't think of that," he said. " But, anyhow, I 
don't like the fellow." 



154 MARRIAGE 

" He seems to be rather clever," said Mrs. Pope, 
" though he certainly talks too much. And after all 
it was Sir Rupert's aeroplane. He was only driving 
it to oblige." 

" He'll think twice before he drives another," said 
Mr. Pope, wrenching off his collar. . . . 

Once Mrs. Pope had turned her imagination in 
this more and more agreeable direction, she was 
rather disposed, I am afraid, to let it bolt with her. 
And it was a deflection that certainly fell in very 
harmoniously with certain secret speculations of 
Daphne's. Trafford, too, being quite unused to any 
sort of social furtiveness, did perhaps, in order to 
divert attention from his preoccupation with Mar- 
jorie, attend more markedly to Daphne than he 
would otherwise have done. And so presently he 
found Daphne almost continuously on his hands. So 
far as she was concerned, he might have told her the 
entire history of his life, and every secret he had in 
the world, without let or hindrance. Mrs. Pope, too, 
showed a growing appreciation of his company, be- 
came sympathetic and confidential in a way that 
invited confidence, and threw a lot of light on her 
family history and Daffy's character. She had found 
Daffy a wonderful study, she said. Mr. Pope, too, 
seemed partly reconciled to him. The idea that, 
after all, both motor cars and monoplane were Sir 
Rupert's, and not Trafford's, had produced a reac- 
tion in the latter gentleman's favour. Moreover, it 
had occurred to him that Trafford's accident had 
perhaps disposed him towards a more thoughtful 
view of mechanical traction, and that this tendency 
would be greatly helped by a little genial chaff. So 
that he ceased to go indoors when Trafford was 
there, and hung about, meditating and delivering sly 
digs at .this new victim of his ripe, old-fashioned 
humour. 



OUT OF THE SKY 155 

Nor did it help Trafford in his quest for Mar- 
jorie and a free, outspoken delivery that the pseudo- 
twins considered him a person of very considerable 
charm, and that Theodore, though indisposed to 
" suck up " to him publicly I write here in Theo- 
dorese did so desire intimate and solitary commun- 
ion with him, more particularly in view of the chances 
of an adventitious aeroplane ride that seemed to 
hang about him as to stalk him persistently hov- 
ering on the verge of groups, playing a waiting game 
with a tennis ball and an old racquet, strolling art- 
lessly towards the gate of the avenue when the time 
seemed ripening for his appearance or departure. 

On the other hand, Marjorie was greatly en- 
tangled by Magnet. 

Magnet was naturally an attentive lover; he was 
full of small encumbering services, and it made him 
none the less assiduous to perceive that Marjorie 
seemed to find no sort of pleasure in all the little 
things he did. He seemed to think that if picking 
the very best rose he could find for her did not cause 
a very perceptible brightening in her, then it was 
all the more necessary quietly to force her racquet 
from her hand and carry it for her, or help her 
ineffectually to cross a foot-wide ditch, or offer to 
read her in a rich, abundant, well modulated voice, 
some choice passage from " The Forest Lovers " of 
Mr. Maurice Hewlett. And behind these devotions 
there was a streak of jealousy. He knew as if by 
instinct that it was not wise to leave these two hand- 
some young people together; he had a queer little 
disagreeable sensation whenever they spoke to one 
another or looked at one another. ^Whenever Traf- 
ford and Marjorie found themselves in a group, 
there was Magnet in the midst of them. He knew 



156 MARRIAGE 

the value of his Marjorie, and did not mean to lose 
her. . . . 

Being jointly baffled in this way was oddly stimu- 
lating to Marjorie's and Trafford's mutual predis- 
position. If you really want to throw people 
together, the thing to do thank God for Ireland ! 
is to keep them apart. By the fourth day of this 
emotional incubation, Marjorie was thinking of 
Trafford to the exclusion of all her reading; and 
Trafford was lying awake at nights oh, for half an 
hour and more thinking of bold, decisive ways of 
getting at Marjorie, and bold, decisive things to say 
to her when he did. 

(But why she should be engaged to Magnet con- 
tinued, nevertheless, to puzzle him extremely. It was 
a puzzle to which no complete solution was ever to 
be forthcoming. . . .) 



At last that opportunity came. Marjorie had 
come with her mother into the village, and while Mrs. 
Pope made some purchases at the general shop she 
walked on to speak to Mrs. Blythe the washerwoman. 
Trafford suddenly emerged from the Red Lion with 
a soda syphon under each arm. She came forward 
smiling. 

" I say," he said forthwith, " I want to talk with 
you badly." 

" And I," she said unhesitatingly, " with you." 

" How can we?" 

" There's always people about. It's absurd." 

" We'll have to meet." 

" Yes." 

" I have to go away to-morrow. I ought to have 
gone two days ago. Where can we meet?" 



OUT OF THE SKY 157 

She had it all prepared. 

" Listen," she said. " There is a path runs from 
our shrubbery through a little wood to a stile on 
the main road." He nodded. " Either I will be there 
at three or about half-past five or there's one more 
chance. While father and Mr. Magnet are smoking 
at nine. ... I might get away." 

" Couldn't I write?" 

" No. Impossible." 

" I've no end of things to say. . . . " 

Mrs. Pope appeared outside her shop, and Traf- 
ford gesticulated a greeting with the syphons. " All 
right," he said to Marjorie. " I'm shopping," he 
cried as Mrs. Pope approached. 



All through the day Marjorie desired to go to 
Trafford and could not do so. It was some minutes 
past nine when at last with a swift rustle of skirts 
that sounded louder than all the world to her, she 
crossed the dimly lit hall between dining-room and 
drawing-room and came into the dreamland of moon- 
light upon the lawn. She had told her mother she 
was going upstairs; at any moment she might be 
missed, but she would have fled now to Trafford if 
an army pursued her. Her heart seemed beating in 
her throat, and every fibre of her being was aquiver. 
She flitted past the dining-room window like a ghost, 
she did not dare to glance aside at the smokers within, 
and round the lawn to the shrubbery, and so under a 
blackness of trees to the gate where he stood waiting. 
And there he was, dim and mysterious and wonderful, 
holding the gate open for her, and she was breath- 
less, and speechless, and near sobbing. She stood 
before him for a moment, her face moonlit and laced 



158 MARRIAGE 

with the shadows of little twigs, and then his arms 
came out to her. 

" My darling," he said, " Oh, my darling !" 

They had no doubt of one another or of anything 
in the world. They clung together; their lips came 
together fresh and untainted as those first lovers' in 
the garden. 

" I will die for you," he said, " I will give all the 
world for you. . . ." 

They had thought all through the day of a hun- 
dred statements and explanations they would make 
when this moment came, and never a word of it all 
was uttered. All their anticipations of a highly 
strung eventful conversation vanished, phrases of the 
most striking sort went like phantom leaves before a 
gale. He held her and she clung to him between 
laughing and sobbing, and both were swiftly and 
conclusively assured their lives must never separate 
again. 



Marjorie never knew whether it was a moment or 
an age before her father came upon them. He had 
decided to take a turn in the garden when Magnet 
could no longer restrain himself from joining the 
ladies, and he chanced to be stick in hand because 
that was his habit after twilight. So it was he found 
them. She heard his voice falling through love and 
moonlight like something that comes out of an im- 
mense distance. 

" G-ood God!" he cried, " what next!" 

But he still hadn't realized the worst. 

" Daffy," he said, " what in the name of good- 
ness -- ?" 

Marjorie put her hands before her face too late. 



OUT OF THE SKY 159 

" Good Lord !" he cried with a rising inflection, 
" it's Madge !" 

Trafford found the situation difficult. " I should 
explain " 

But Mr. Pope was giving himself up to a tower- 
ing rage. " You damned scoundrel !" he said. " What 
the devil are you doing?" He seized Marjorie by 
the arm and drew her towards him. " My poor mis- 
guided girl!" he said, and suddenly she was tensely 
alive, a little cry of horror in her throat, for her 
father, at a loss for words and full of heroic rage, 
had suddenly swung his stick with passionate force, 
and struck at Trafford's face. She heard the thud, 
saw Trafford wince and stiffen. For a perfectly 
horrible moment it seemed to her these men, their 
faces queerly distorted by the shadows of the branch- 
es in the slanting moonlight, might fight. Then she 
heard Trafford's voice, sounding cool and hard, and 
she knew that he would do nothing of the kind. In 
that instant if there had remained anything to win 
in Marjorie it was altogether won. " I asked your 
daughter to meet me here," he said. 

" Be off with you, sir !" cried Mr. Pope. " Don't 
tempt me further, sir," and swung his stick again. 
But now the force had gone out of him. Trafford 
stood with a hand out ready for him, and watched his 
face. 

" I asked your daughter to meet me here, and she 
came. I am prepared to give you any explana- 
tion " 

" If you come near this place again " 

For some moments Marjorie's heart had been held 
still, now it was beating violently. She felt this scene 
must end. " Mr. Trafford," she said, " will you go. 
Go now. Nothing shall keep us apart !" 

Mr. Pope turned on her. " Silence, girl !" he said. 



160 MARRIAGE 

" I shall come to you to-morrow," said Trafford. 

" Yes," said Marjorie, " to-morrow." 

"Marjorie!" said Mr. Pope, " will you go in- 
doors." 

" I have done nothing " 

" Be off, sir." 

" I have done nothing " 

" Will you be off, sir? And you, Marjorie will 
you go indoors?" 

He came round upon her, and after one still 
moment of regard for Trafford and she looked very 
beautiful in the moonlight with her hair a little dis- 
ordered and her face alight she turned to precede 
her father through the shrubbery. 

Mr. Pope hesitated whether he should remain 
with Trafford. 

A perfectly motionless man is very disconcerting. 

" Be off, sir," he said over his shoulder, lowered 
through a threatening second, and followed her. 

But Trafford remained stiffly with a tingling tem- 
ple down which a little thread of blood was running, 
until their retreating footsteps had died down into 
that confused stirring of little sounds which makes 
the stillness of an English wood at night. 

Then he roused himself with a profound sigh, and 
put a hand to his cut and bruised cheek. 

" Well!" he said. 



CHAPTER THE FOURTH 

CRISIS 



CRISIS prevailed in Buryhamstreet that night. On 
half a dozen sleepless pillows souls communed with 
the darkness, and two at least of those pillows were 
wet with tears. 

Not one of those wakeful heads was perfectly 
clear about the origins and bearings of the trouble; 
not even Mr. Pope felt absolutely sure of himself. 
It had come as things come to people nowadays, be- 
cause they will not think things out, much less talk 
things out, and are therefore in a hopeless tangle of 
values that tightens sooner or later to a knot. . . . 

What an uncharted perplexity, for example, 
was the mind of that excellent woman Mrs. Pope ! 

Poor lady ! she hadn't a stable thing in her head. 
It is remarkable that some queer streak in her com- 
position sympathized with Marjorie's passion for 
Trafford. But she thought it such a pity! She 
fought that sympathy down as if it were a wicked 
thing. And she fought too against other ideas that 
rose out of the deeps and did not so much come into 
her mind as cluster at the threshold, the idea that 
Marjorie was in effect grown up, a dozen queer 
criticisms of Magnet, and a dozen subtle doubts 
whether after all Marjorie was going to be happy 
with him as she assured herself the girl would be. 
(So far as any one knew Trafford might be an excel- 
lent match!) And behind these would-be invaders 
of her guarded mind prowled even worse ones, doubts, 
horrible disloyal doubts, about the wisdom and 
kindness of Mr. Pope. 

161 



162 MARRIAGE 

Quite early in life Mrs. Pope had realized that it 
is necessary to be very careful with one's thoughts. 
They lead to trouble. She had clipped the wings of 
her own mind therefore so successfully that all her 
conclusions had become evasions, all her decisions 
compromises. Her profoundest working conviction 
was a belief that nothing in the world was of value 
but " tact," and that the art of living was to " tide 
things over." But here it seemed almost beyond 
her strength to achieve any sort of tiding over. . . 

(Why couldn't Mr. Pope lie quiet?) 

Whatever she said or did had to be fitted to the 
exigencies of Mr. Pope. 

Availing himself of the privileges of matrimony, 
her husband so soon as Mr. Magnet had gone and 
they were upstairs together, had explained the situa- 
tion with vivid simplicity, and had gone on at con- 
siderable length and with great vivacity to enlarge 
upon his daughter's behaviour. He ascribed this 
moral disaster, he presented it as a moral disaster 
of absolutely calamitous dimensions entirely to 
Mrs. Pope's faults and negligences. Warming with 
his theme he had employed a number of homely ex- 
pressions rarely heard by decent women except in 
these sacred intimacies, to express the deep indigna- 
tion of a strong man moved to unbridled speech by 
the wickedness of those near and dear to him. Still 
warming, he raised his voice and at last shouted out 
his more forcible meanings, until she feared the ser- 
vants and children might hear, waved a clenched fist 
at imaginary Traffords and scoundrels generally, 
and giving way completely to his outraged' virtue, 
smote and kicked blameless articles of furniture in 
a manner deeply impressive to the feminine intel- 
ligence. 



CRISIS 163 

Finally he sat down in the little arm-chair be- 
tween her and the cupboard where she was accus- 
tomed to hang up her clothes, stuck out his legs very 
stiffly across the room, and despaired of his family 
in an obtrusive and impregnable silence for an 
enormous time. 

All of which awakened a deep sense of guilt and 
unworthiness in Mrs. Pope's mind, and prevented her 
going to bed, but did not help her in the slightest 
degree to grasp the difficulties of the situation. . . 

She would have lain awake anyhow, but she was 
greatly helped in this by Mr. Pope's restlessness. He 
was now turning over from left to right or from right 
to left at intervals of from four to seven minutes, 
and such remarks as " Damned scoundrel ! Get out 
of this !" or "My daughter and degrade yourself in 
this way !" or " Never let me see your face again !" 
" Plight your troth to one man, and fling yourself 
shamelessly I repeat it, Marjorie, shamelessly 
into the arms of another!" kept Mrs. Pope closely 
in touch with the general trend of his thoughts. 

She tried to get together her plans and percep- 
tions rather as though she swept up dead leaves on a 
gusty day. She knew that the management of the 
whole situation rested finally on her, and that what- 
ever she did or did not do, or whatever arose to 
thwart her arrangements, its entire tale of responsi- 
bility would ultimately fall upon her shoulders. She 
wondered what was to be done with Marjorie, with 
Mr. Magnet? Need he know? Could that situation 
be saved? Everything at present was raw in her mind. 
Except for her husband's informal communications 
she did not even know what had appeared, what 
Daffy had seen, what Magnet thought of Marjorie's 
failure to bid him good-night. For example, had 
Mr. Magnet^ noticed Mr^Pope's profound disturb- 



164 MARRIAGE 

ance? She had to be ready to put a face on things 
before morning, and it seemed impossible she could 
do so. In times of crisis, as every woman knows, it 
is always necessary to misrepresent everything to 
everybody, but how she was to dovetail her mis- 
representations, get the best effect from them, extract 
a working system of rights and wrongs from them, 
she could not imagine. . . . 

(Oh! she did so wish Mr. Pope would lie quiet.) 
But he had no doubts of what became him. He 
had to maintain a splendid and irrational rage at 
any cost to anybody. 



A few yards away, a wakeful Marjorie con- 
fronted a joyless universe. She had a baffling reali- 
zation that her life was in a hopeless mess, that she 
really had behaved disgracefully, and that she 
couldn't for a moment understand how it had hap- 
pened. She had intended to make quite sure of 
Trafford and then put things straight. 

Only her father had spoilt everything. 

She regarded her father that night with a want 
of natural affection terrible to record. Why had he 
come just when he had, just as he had? Why had 
he been so violent, so impossible? 

Of course, she had no business to be there. . . . 

She examined her character with a new unpre- 
cedented detachment. Wasn't she, after all, rather 
a mean human being? It had never occurred to her 
before to ask such a question. Now she asked it with 
only too clear a sense of the answer. She tried to 
trace how these multiplying threads of meanness had 
first come into the fabric of a life she had supposed 
herself to be weaving in extremely bright, honour- 



CRISIS 165 

able, and adventurous colours. She ought, of course, 
never to have accepted Magnet. . . . 

She faced the disagreeable word; was she a liar? 

At any rate, she told lies. 

And she'd behaved with extraordinary meanness 
to Daphne. She realized that now. She had known, 
as precisely as if she had been told, how Daphne 
felt about Trafford, and she'd never given her an 
inkling of her own relations. She hadn't for a mo- 
ment thought of Daphne. No wonder Daffy was 
sombre and bitter. Whatever she knew, she knew 
enough. She had heard Trafford's name in urgent 
whispers on the landing. " I suppose you couldn't 
leave him alone," Daffy had said, after a long hostile 
silence. That was all. Just a sentence without pre- 
lude or answer flung across the bedroom, revealing 
a perfect understanding deeps of angry disillu- 
sionment. Marjorie had stared and gasped, and 
made no answer. 

Would she ever see him again? After this horror 
of rowdy intervention? She didn't deserve to; she 
didn't deserve anything. . . . Oh, the tangle of it 
all! The tangle of it all! And those bills at Ox- 
bridge! She was just dragging Trafford down into 
her own miserable morass of a life. 

Her thoughts would take a new turn. " I love 
him," she whispered soundlessly. " I would die for 
him. I would like to lie under his feet and him not 
know it." 

Her mind hung on that for a long time. " Not 
know it until afterwards," she corrected. 

She liked to be exact, even in despair. . . . 

And then in her memory he was struck again, and 
stood stiff and still. She wanted to kneel to him, 
imagined herself kneeling. . . . 

And so on, quite inconclusively, round and round 
through the interminable night hours. 



166 MARRIAGE 

3 

The young man in the village was, if possible, 
more perplexed, round-eyed and generally incon- 
clusive than anyone else in this series of nocturnal 
disturbances. He spent long intervals sitting on his 
window-sill regarding a world that was scented 
with nightstock, and seemed to be woven of moon- 
shine and gossamer. Being an inexpert and in- 
frequent soliloquist, his only audible comment on his 
difficulties was the repetition in varying intonations 
of his fervent, unalterable conviction that he was 
damned. But behind this simple verbal mask was 
a great fury of mental activity. 

He had something of Marjorie's amazement at 
the position of affairs. 

He had never properly realized that it was 
possible for any one to regard Marjorie as a 
daughter, to order her about and resent the research 
for her society as criminal. It was a new light in his 
world. Some day he was to learn the meaning of 
fatherhood, but in these night watches he regarded 
it as a hideous survival of mediaeval darknesses. 

" Of course," he said, entirely ignoring the actual 
quality of their conversation, " she had to explain 
about the Magnet affair. Can't one converse?" 

He reflected through great intervals. 

" I witt see her ! Why on earth shouldn't I see 
her?" 

" I suppose they can't lock her up !" 

For a time he contemplated a writ of Habeas 
Corpus. He saw reason to regret the gaps in his 
legal knowledge. 

" Can any one get a writ of Habeas Corpus for 
any one it doesn't matter whom " more especial- 
ly if you are a young man of six- and- twenty, anx- 



CRISIS 167 

ious to exchange a few richly charged words with 
a girl of twenty who is engaged to some one else? 

The night had no answer. 

It was nearly dawn when he came to the entirely 
inadvisable conclusion I use his own words to go 
and have it out with the old ruffian. He would sit 
down and ask him what he meant by it all and 
reason with him. If he started flourishing that stick 
again, it would have to be taken away. 

And having composed a peroration upon the 
institution of the family of a character which he 
fondly supposed to be extraordinarily tolerant, 
reasonable and convincing, but which was indeed cal- 
calculated to madden Mr. Pope to frenzy, Mr. Traf- 



ford went very peacefully to sleep. 



Came dawn, with a noise of birds and after- 
wards a little sleep, and then day, and heavy eyes 
opened again, and the sound of frying and the smell 
of coffee recalled our actors to the stage. Mrs. 
Pope was past her worst despair; always the morn- 
ing brings courage and a clearer grasp of things, 
and she could face the world with plans shaped sub- 
consciously during those last healing moments of 
slumber. 

Breakfast was difficult, but not impossible. Mr. 
Pope loomed like a thundercloud, but Marjorie 
pleaded a headache very wisely, and was taken a 
sympathetic cup of tea. The pseudo-twins scented 
trouble, but Theodore was heedless and over-full of 
an entertaining noise made by a moorhen as it dived 
in the ornamental water that morning. You could 
make it practically sotto voce, and it amused Syd. 
He seemed to think the Times opaque to such small 



168 MARRIAGE 

sounds, and learnt better only to be dismissed under- 
fed and ignominiously from the table to meditate 
upon the imperfections of his soul in the schoolroom. 
There for a time he was silent, and then presently 
became audible again, playing with a ball and, pre- 
sumably, Marjorie's tennis racquet. 

Directly she could disentangle herself from break- 
fast Mrs. Pope, with all her plans acute, went up to 
the girls' room. She found her daughter dressing in 
a leisurely and meditative manner. She shut the door 
almost confidentially. " Marjorie," she said, "I 
want you to tell me all about this." 

" I thought I heard father telling you," said 
Mar j orie. 

" He was too indignant," said Mrs. Pope, " to 
explain clearly. You see, Marjorie " she paused 
before her effort " he knows things about this Pro- 
fessor Trafford." 

" What things?" asked Marjorie, turning sharply. 

" I don't know, my dear and I can't imagine." 

She looked out of the window, aware of Mar- 
jorie's entirely distrustful scrutiny. 

" I don't believe it," said Marjorie. 

" Don't believe what, dear?" 

" Whatever he says." 

" I wish I didn't," said Mrs. Pope, and turned. 
" Oh, Madge," she cried, " you cannot imagine how 
all this distresses me! I cannot I cannot conceive 
how you came to be in such a position ! Surely hon- 
our ! Think of Mr. Magnet, how good and 

patient he has been! You don't know that man. 
You don't know all he is, and all that it means to a 
girl. He is good and honourable and pure. He is 
kindness itself. It seemed to me that you were to be 
so happy rich, honoured." 



CRISIS 169 

She was overcome by a rush of emotion ; she turn- 
ed to the bed and sat down. 

" There!" she said desolately. " It's aU ruined, 
shattered, gone." 

Mar j one tried not to feel that her mother was 
right. 

" If father hadn't interfered," she said weakly. 

" Oh, don't, my dear, speak so coldly of your 
father ! You don't know what he has to put up with. 
You don't know his troubles and anxieties all this 
wretched business." She paused, and her face became 
portentous. " Marjorie, do you know if these rail- 
ways go on as they are going he may have to eat into 
Ills capital this year. Just think of that, and the 
worry he has ! And this last shame and anxiety !" 

Her voice broke again. Marjorie listened with 
an expression that was almost sullen. 

" But what is it," she asked, " that father knows 
about Mr. Trafford?" 

" I don't know, dear. I don't know. But it's 
something that matters that makes it all different." 

" Well, may I speak to Mr. Trafford before he 
leaves Buryhamstreet ?" 

" My dear ! Never see him, dear never think of 

him again! Your father would not dream Some 

day, Marjorie, you will rejoice you will want to 
thank your father on your bended knees that he 
saved you from the clutches of this man. ..." 

" I won't believe anything about Mr. Trafford," 
she said slowly, " until I know " 

She left the sentence incomplete. 

She made her declaration abruptly. " I love Mr. 
Trafford," she said, with a catch in her voice, " and I 
don't love Mr. Magnet." 

Mrs. Pope received this like one who is suddenly 
stabbed. She sat still as if overwhelmed, one hand 



170 MARRIAGE 

pressed to her side and her eyes closed. Then she 
said, as if she gasped involuntarily 

" It's too dreadful! Marjorie," she said, " I want 
to ask you to do something. After all, a mother has 
some claim. Will you wait just a little. Will you 
promise me to do nothing nothing, I mean, to com- 
mit you until your father has been able to make 
inquiries. Don't see him for a little while. Very soon 
you'll be one-and-twenty, and then perhaps things 
may be different. If he cares for you, and you for 
him, a little separation won't matter. . . . Until 
your father has inquired. ..." 

" Mother," said Marjorie, " I can't " 

Mrs. Pope drew in the air sharply between her 
teeth, as if in agony. 

" But, mother Mother, I must let Mr. Traf- 

ford know that I'm not to see him. I can't suddenly 
cease. . . . If I could see him once " 

" Don't !" said Mrs. Pope, in a hollow voice. 

Marjorie began weeping. " He'd not under- 
stand." she said. " If I might just speak to him!" 

" Not alone, Marjorie." 
Marjorie stood still. " Well before you." 

Mrs. Pope conceded the point. "And then, Mar- 
jorie " she said. 

" I'd keep my word, mother," said Marjorie, and 
began to sob in a manner she felt to be absurdly 
childish " until until I am one-and-twenty. I'd 
promise that. 

Mrs. Pope did a brief calculation. " Marjorie," 
she said, " it's only your happiness I think of." 

" I know," said Marjorie, and added in a low 
voice, " and father." 

" My dear, you don't understand your father. . . 
I believe I do firmly believe if anything happened 
to any of you girls anything bad he would kill 



CRISIS 171 

himself. . . . And I know he means that you aren't 
to go about so much as you used to do, unless we have 
the most definite promises. Of course, your father's 
ideas aren't always my ideas, Marjorie; but it's your 
duty You know how hasty he is and quick. 
Just as you know how good and generous and kind 
he is " she caught Marjorie's eye, and added a little 
lamely "at bottom." ... She thought. "I 
think I could get him to let you say just one word 
with Mr. Trafford. It would be very difficult, 
but " 

She paused for a few seconds, and seemed to be 
thinking deeply. 

" Marjorie," she said, " Mr. Magnet must never 
know anything of this." 

"But, mother !" 

"Nothing!" 

" I can't go on with my engagement !" 

Mrs. Pope shook her head inscrutably. 

"But how can I, mother?" 

" You need not tell him why, Marjorie." 

" But " 

" Just think how it would humiliate and distress 
him! You can't, Marjorie. You must find some 
excuse oh, any excuse ! But not the truth not the 
truth, Marjorie. It would be too dreadful." 

Marjorie thought. " Look here, mother, I may 
see Mr. Trafford again ? I may really speak to him ?" 

" Haven't I promised ?" 

" Then, I'll do as you say," said Marjorie. 



Mrs. Pope found her husband seated at the desk 
in the ultra-Protestant study, meditating gloomily. 

" I've been talking to her," she said, " She's in 
a state of terrible distress." 



172 MARRIAGE 

" She ought to be," said Mr. Pope. 

" Philip, you don't understand Mar j one." 

I don't." 

" You think she was kissing that man." 

" Well, she was." 

" You can think that of her!" 

Mr. Pope turned his chair to her. " But I saw!" 

Mrs. Pope shook her head. " She wasn't ; she 
was struggling to get away from him. She told me 
so herself. I've been into it with her. You don't 
understand, Philip. A man like that has a sort of 
fascination for a girl. He dazzles her. It's the way 
with girls. But you're quite mistaken. . . . Quite. 
It's a sort of hypnotism. She'll grow out of it. Of 
course, she loves Mr. Magnet. She does indeed. I've 
not a doubt of it. But " 

" You're sure she wasn't kissing him?" 

" Positive." 

" Then why didn't you say so ?" 

" A girl's so complex. You didn't give her a 
chance. She's fearfully ashamed of herself fear- 
fully! but it's just because she is ashamed that she 
won't admit it." 

" I'll make her admit it." 

" You ought to have had all boys," said Mrs. 
Pope. " Oh ! she'll admit it some day readily 
enough. But I believe a girl of her spirit would 
rather die than begin explaining. You can't expect 
it of her. Really you can't." 

He grunted and shook his head slowly from side 
to side. 

She sat down in the arm-chair beside the desk. 

" I want to know just exactly what we are to do 
about the girl, Philip. I can't bear to think of her 
up there." 



CRISIS 173 

"How?" he asked. "Up there?" 

" Yes," she answered with that skilful inconsecu- 
tiveness of hers, and let a brief silence touch his 
imagination. " Do you think that man means to 
come here again ?" she asked. 

" Chuck him out if he does," said Mr. Pope, 
grimly. 

She pressed her lips together firmly. She seemed 
to be weighing things painfully. " I wouldn't," she 
said at last. 

" What do you mean ?" asked Mr. Pope. 

" I do not want you to make an open quarrel 
with Mr. Trafford." 

"Not quarrel!" 

" Not an open one," said Mrs. Pope. " Of course 
I know how nice it would be if you could use a horse- 
whip, dear. There's such a lot of things if we 
only just slash. But it won't help. Get him to go 
away. She's consented never to see him again 
practically. She's ready to tell him so herself. Part 
them against their will oh ! and the thing may go on 
for no end of time. But treat it as it ought to be 
treated She'll be very tragic for a week or so, 
and then she'll forget him like a dream. He is a 
dream a girl's dream. ... If only we leave k 
alone, she'll leave it alone." 



Things were getting straight, Mrs. Pope felt. She 
had now merely to add a few touches to the tranquil- 
lization of Daphne, and the misdirection of the twin's 
curiosity. These touches accomplished, it seemed that 
everything was done. After a brief reflection, she 
dismissed the idea of putting things to Theodore. 
She ran over the possibilities of the servants eaves- 



174 MARRIAGE 

dropping, and found them negligible. Yes, every- 
thing was done everything. And yet. . . . 

The queer string in her nature between religiosity 
and superstition began to vibrate. She hesitated. 
Then she slipped upstairs, fastened the door, fell on 
her knees beside the bed and put the whole thing as 
acceptably as possible to Heaven in a silent, simple, 
but lucidly explanatory prayer. . . . 

She came out of her chamber brighter and braver 
than she had been for eighteen long hours. She could 
now, she felt, await the developments that threatened 
with the serenity of one who is prepared at every 
point. She went almost happily to the kitchen, only 
about forty-five minutes behind her usual time, to 
order the day's meals and see with her own eyes that 
economies prevailed. And it seemed to her, on the 
whole, consoling, and at any rate a distraction, when 
the cook informed her that after all she had meant to 
give notice on the day of aunt Plessington's visit. 



The unsuspecting Magnet, fatigued but happy 
for three hours of solid humorous writing (omitting 
every unpleasant suggestion and mingling in the most 
acceptable and saleable proportions smiles and tears) 
had added its quota to the intellectual heritage of 
England, made a simple light lunch cooked in homely 
village-inn fashion, lit a well merited cigar, and turn- 
ed his steps towards the vicarage. He was preceded 
at some distance along the avenuesque drive by the 
back of Mr. Trafford, which he made no attempt to 
overtake. 

Mr. Trafford was admitted and disappeared, and 
a minute afterwards Magnet reached the door. 

Mrs. Pope appeared radiant about the weather. 
A rather tiresome man had just called upon Mr. 



CRISIS 175 

Pope about business matters, she said, and he might 
be detained five or ten minutes. Marjorie and Daffy 
were upstairs resting. They had been disturbed 
by bats in the night. 

" Isn't it charmingly rural?" said Mrs. Pope. 
" Bats!" 

She talked about bats and the fear she had of 
their getting in her hair, and as she talked she led 
the way brightly but firmly as far as possible out of 
earshot of the windows of the ultra Protestant study 
in which Mr. Pope was now (she did so hope tem- 
perately) interviewing Mr. Trafford. 



8 



Directly Mr. Trafford had reached the front door 
it had opened for him, and closed behind him at once. 
He had found himself with Mrs. Pope. " You wish 
to see my husband?" she had said, and had led him 
to the study forthwith. She had returned at once to 
intercept Mr. Magnet. . . . 

Trafford found Mr. Pope seated sternly at the 
centre of the writing desk, regarding him with a 
threatening brow. 

" Well, sir," said Mr. Pope breaking the silence, 
" you have come to offer some explanation " 

While awaiting this encounter Mr. Pope had not 
been insensitive to the tactical and scenic possibilities 
of the occasion. In fact, he had spent the latter half 
of the morning in intermittent preparations, arrang- 
ing desks, books, hassocks in advantageous positions, 
and not even neglecting such small details as the 
stamp tray, the articles of interest from Jerusalem, 
and the rock-crystal cenotaph, which he had exhibited 
in such a manner as was most calculated to damp, 



176 MARRIAGE 

chill and subjugate an antagonist in the exposed area 
towards the window. He had also arranged the chairs 
in a highly favourable pattern. 

Mr. Trafford was greatly taken aback by Mr. 
Pope's juridical manner and by this form of address, 
and he was further put out by Mr. Pope saying with 
a regal gesture to the best illuminated and most iso- 
lated chair: " Be seated, sir." 

Mr. Trafford's exordium vanished from his mind, 
he was at a loss for words until spurred to speech by 
Mr. Pope's almost truculent : " Well ?" 

" I am in love sir, with your daughter." 

" I am not aware of it," said Mr. Pope, and lifted 
and dropped the paper-weight. " My daughter, sir, 
is engaged to marry Mr. Magnet. If you had ap- 
proached me in a proper fashion before presuming 

to attempt to attempt " His voice thickened 

with indignation, " Liberties with her, you would 
have been duly informed of her position and every- 
one would have been saved " he lifted the paper- 
weight. " Everything that has happened." (Bump.) 

Mr. Trafford had to adjust himself to the un- 
expected elements in this encounter. " Oh !" he said. 

" Yes," said Mr. Pope, and there was a distinct 
interval. 

" Is your daughter in love with Mr. Magnet?" 
asked Mr. Trafford in an almost colloquial tone. 

Mr. Pope smiled gravely. " I presume so, sir." 

" She never gave me that impression, anyhow," 
said the young man. 

" It was neither her duty to give nor yours to 
receive that impression," said Mr. Pope. 

Again Mr. Trafford was at a loss. 

"Have you come here, sir, merely to bandy 
words?" asked Mr. Pope, drumming with ten fingers 
on the table. 



CRISIS 177 

Mr. Trafford thrust his hands into his pockets 
and assumed a fictitious pose of ease. He had never 
found any one in his life before quite so provocative 
of colloquialism as Mr. Pope. 

" Look here, sir, this is all very well," he began, 
" but why can't I fall in love with your daughter ? 
I'm a Doctor of Science and all that sort of thing. 
I've a perfectly decent outlook. My father was rather 
a swell in his science. I'm an entirely decent and 
respectable person." 

" I beg to differ," said Mr. Pope. 

" But I am." 

" Again," said Mr. Pope, with great patience, and 
a slight forward bowing of the head, " I beg to differ." 

" Well differ. But all the same " 

He paused and began again, and for a time they 
argued to no purpose. They generalized about the 
position of an engaged girl and the rights and privi- 
leges of a father. Then Mr. Pope, " to cut all this 
short," told him frankly he wasn't wanted, his daugh- 
ter did not want him, nobody wanted him ; he was an 
invader, he had to be got rid of " if possible by 
peaceful means." Trafford disputed these proposi- 
tions, and asked to see Marjorie. Mr. Pope had been 
leading up to this, and at once closed with that 
request. 

" She is as anxious as any one to end this intol- 
erable siege," he said. He went to the door and 
called for Marjorie, who appeared with conspicuous 
promptitude. She was in a dress of green linen that 
made her seem very cool as well as very dignified to 
Trafford; she was tense with restrained excitement, 
and either for these things shade into each other 
entirely without a disposition to act her part or 
acting with consummate ability. Trafford rose at 
the sight of her, and remained standing. Mr. Pope 



178 MARRIAGE 

closed the door and walked back to the desk. " Mr. 
Trafford has to be told," he said, " that you don't 
want him in Buryhamstreet." He arrested Mar- 
jorie's forward movement towards Trafford by a 
gesture of the hand, seated himself, and resumed his 
drumming on the table. " Well?" he said. 

" I don't think you ought to stay in Buryham- 
street, Mr. Trafford," said Marjorie. 

" You don't want me to?" 

" It will only cause trouble and scenes." 

" You want me to go ?" 

" Away from here." 

" You really mean that ?" 

Marjorie did not answer for a little time; she 
seemed to be weighing the exact force of all she was 
going to say. 

" Mr. Trafford," she answered, " everything I've 
ever said to you everything I've meant, more than 
I've ever meant anything. Everything!" 

A little flush of colour came into Trafford's 
cheeks. He regarded Marjorie with a brightening 
eye. 

" Oh well," he said, " I don't understand. But 
I'm entirely in your hands, of course." 

Marjorie's pose and expression altered. For an 
instant she was a miracle of instinctive expression, 
she shone at him, she conveyed herself to him, she 
assured him. Her eyes met his, she stood warmly 
flushed and quite unconquered visibly, magnificently 
his. She poured into him just that riotous pride and 
admiration that gives a man altogether to a woman. 
. . . Then it seemed as if a light passed, and she 
was just an everyday Marjorie standing there. 

" I'll do anything you want me to," said Trafford. 

" Then I want you to go." 

" Ah !" said Mr. Pope. 



CRISIS 179 

" Yes," said Trafford, with his eyes on her self- 
possession. 

" I've promised not to write or send to you, or 
think more than I can help of you, until I'm twenty- 
one nearly two months from now." 

"And then?" 

" I don't know. How can I?" 

" You hear, sir?" from Mr. Pope, in the pause 
of mutual scrutiny that followed. 

" One question," said Mr. Trafford. 

" You've surely asked enough, sir," said Mr. 
Pope. 

" Are you still engaged to Magnet?" 

"Sir!" 

"Please, father;" said Marjorie, with unusual 
daring and in her mother's voice. " Mr. Trafford, 
after what I've told you you must leave that to 
me." 

" She is engaged to Mr. Magnet," said Mr. 
Pope. " Tell him outright, Marjorie. Make it 
clear." 

" I think I understand," said Trafford, with his 
eyes on Marjorie. 

" I've not seen Mr. Magnet since last night," said 
Marjorie. "And so naturally I'm still engaged 
to him." 

" Precisely !" said Mr. Pope, and turned with a 
face of harsh interrogation to his importunate caller. 
Mr. Trafford seemed disposed for further questions. 
" I don't think we need detain you, Madge," said 
Mr. Pope, over his shoulder. 

The two young people stood facing one another 
for a moment, and I am afraid that they were both 
extremely happy and satisfied with each other. It 
was all right, they were quite sure all right. Their 
lips were almost smiling. Then Marjorie made an 



180 MARRIAGE 

entirely dignified exit. She closed the door very 
softly, and Mr. Pope turned to his visitor again with 
a bleak politeness. " I hope that satisfies you," he 
said. 

" There is nothing more to be said at present, I 
admit," said Mr. Trafford. 

" Nothing," said Mr. Pope. 

Both gentlemen bowed. Mr. Pope rose ceremoni- 
ously, and Mr. Trafford walked doorward. He had 
a sense of latent absurdities in these tremendous 
attitudes. They passed through the hall proces- 
sionally. But just at the end some lower strain in 
Mr. Trafford's nature touched the fine dignity of the 
occasion with an inappropriate remark. 

" Good-bye, sir," said Mr. Pope, holding the 
housedoor wide. 

" Good-bye, sir," said Mr. Trafford, and then 
added with a note of untimely intimacy in his voice, 
with an inexcusable levity upon his lips : " You know 
there's nobody no man in the world I'd sooner 
have for a father-in-law than you." 

Mr. Pope, caught unprepared on the spur of the 
moment, bowed in a cold and distant manner, and 
then almost immediately closed the door to save him- 
self from violence. . . . 

From first to last neither gentleman had made 
the slightest allusion to a considerable bruise upon 
Mr. Trafford's left cheek, and a large abrasion above 
his ear. 

19 

That afternoon Marjorie began her difficult task 
of getting disengaged from Mr. Magnet. It was 
difficult because she was pledged not to tell him of 
the one thing that made this line of action not only 



CRISIS 181 

explicable, but necessary. Magnet, perplexed, and 
disconcerted, and secretly sustained by her mother's 
glancing sidelights on the feminine character and the 
instability of " girlish whims," remained at Buryham- 
street until the family returned to Hartstone Square. 
The engagement was ended formally but in such 
a manner that Magnet was left a rather pathetic 
and invincibly assiduous besieger. He lavished little 
presents upon both sisters, he devised little treats for 
the entire family, he enriched Theodore beyond the 
dreams of avarice, and he discussed his love and ad- 
miration for Marjorie, and the perplexities and 
delicacies of the situation not only with Mrs. Pope, 
but with Daphne. At first he had thought very little 
of Daphne, but now he was beginning to experience 
the subtle pleasures of a confidential friendship. She 
understood, he felt; it was quite wonderful how she 
understood. He found Daffy much richer in re- 
sponse than Marjorie, and far less disconcerting in 
reply. . . . 

Mr. Pope, for all Marjorie's submission to his 
wishes, developed a Grand Dudgeon of exceptionally 
fine proportions when he heard of the breach of the 
engagement. He ceased to speak to his daughter or 
admit himself aware of her existence, and the Grand 
Dudgeon's blighting shadow threw a chill over the 
life of every one in the house. He made it clear that 
the Grand Dudgeon would only be lifted by Mar- 
jorie's re-engagement to Magnet, and that whatever 
blight or inconvenience fell on the others was due 
entirely to Marjorie's wicked obstinacy. Using Mrs. 
Pope as an intermediary, he also conveyed to Mar- 
jorie his decision to be no longer burthened with the 
charges of her education at Oxbridge, and he made it 
seem extremely doubtful whether he should remember 
her approaching twenty-first birthday. 



182 MARRIAGE 

Mar j one received the news of her severance from 
Oxbridge, Mrs. Pope thought, with a certain hard- 
ness. 

" I thought he would do that," said Mar j one. 
" He's always wanted to do that," and said no more. 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH 

A TELEPHONE CALL 



went back to Solomonson for a day or so, 
and then to London, to resume the experimental work 
of the research he had in hand. But he was so much 
in love with Marjorie that for some days it was a very 
dazed mind that fumbled with the apparatus 
arranged it and rearranged it, and fell into day- 
dreams that gave the utmost concern to Durgan the 
bottle-washer. 

" He's not going straight at things," said Durgan 
the bottle-washer to his wife. " He usually goes so 
straight at things it's a pleasure to watch it. He 
told me he was going down into Kent to think every- 
thing out." Mr. Durgan paused impressively, and 
spoke with a sigh of perplexity. " He hasn't. . . ." 

But later Durgan was able to report that Traf- 
ford had pulled himself together. The work was 
moving. 

" I was worriea for a bit," said Mr. Durgan. 
" But I think it's all right again. I believe it's all 
right again." 

* 

Trafford was one of those rare scientific men who 
really ought to be engaged in scientific research. 

He could never leave an accepted formula alone. 
His mind was like some insatiable corrosive, that ate 
into all the hidden inequalities and plastered weak- 
nesses of accepted theories, and bit its way through 

183 



184 MARRIAGE 

every plausibility of appearance. He was extraordi- 
narily fertile in exasperating alternative hypotheses. 
His invention of destructive test experiments was as 
happy as the respectful irony with which he brought 
them into contact with the generalizations they 
doomed. He was already, at six-and-twenty, hated, 
abused, obstructed, and respected. He was still out- 
side the Royal Society, of course, and the editors of 
the scientific periodicals admired his papers greatly, 
and delayed publication; but it was fairly certain 
that that pressure of foreign criticism and competi- 
tion which prevents English scientific men of good 
family and social position from maintaining any 
such national standards as we are able to do in art, 
literature, and politics, would finally carry him in. 
And since he had a small professorship worth three 
hundred a year, which gave him the command of a 
sufficient research laboratory and the services of Mr. 
Durgan, a private income of nearly three hundred 
more, a devoted mother to keep house for him, and 
an invincible faith in Truth, he had every prospect 
of winning in his particular struggle to inflict more 
Truth, new lucidities, and fresh powers upon this 
fractious and unreasonable universe. 

In the world of science now, even more than in the 
world of literature and political thought, the thing 
that is alive struggles, half-suffocated, amidst a 
copious production of things born dead. The en- 
dowment of research, the organization of scientific 
progress, the creation of salaried posts, and the 
assignment of honours, has attracted to this field 
just that type of man which is least gifted to pene- 
trate and discover, and least able to admit its own 
defect or the quality of a superior. Such men are 
producing great, bulky masses of imitative research, 
futile inquiries, and monstrous entanglements of 



A TELEPHONE CALL 185 

technicality about their subjects; and it is to their 
instinctive antagonism to the idea of a " gift " in 
such things that we owe the preposterous conception 
of a training for research, the manufacture of mental 
blinkers that is to say, to avoid what is the very soul 
of brilliant inquiry applicable discursiveness. The 
trained investigator is quite the absurdest figure in 
the farce of contemporary intellectual life ; he is like 
a bath-chair perpetually starting to cross the Hima- 
layas by virtue of a licence to do so. For such en- 
terprises one must have wings. Organization and 
genius are antipathetic. The vivid and creative 
mind, by virtue of its qualities, is a spasmodic and 
adventurous mind; it resents blinkers, and the mere 
implication that it can be driven in harness to the 
unexpected. It demands freedom. It resents regu- 
lar attendance from ten to four and punctualities in 
general and all those paralyzing minor tests of con- 
duct that are vitally important to the imagination 
of the authoritative dull. Consequently, it is being 
eliminated from its legitimate field, and it is only 
here and there among the younger men that such a 
figure as Trafford gives any promise of a renewal of 
that enthusiasm, that intellectual enterprise, which 
were distinctive of the great age of scientific advance. 
Trafford was the only son of his parents. His 
father had been a young surgeon, more attracted by 
knowledge than practice, who had been killed by a 
scratch of the scalpel in an investigation upon ulcer- 
ative processes, at the age of twenty-nine. Trafford 
at that time was three years old, so that he had not 
the least memory of his father; but his mother, by a 
thousand almost unpremeditated touches, had built 
up a figure for him and a tradition that was shaping 
his life. She had loved her husband passionately, and 
when he died her love burnt up like a flame released, 



186 MARRIAGE 

and made a god of the good she had known with him. 
She was then a very beautiful and active-minded 
woman of thirty, and she did her best to reconstruct 
her life; but she could find nothing so living in the 
world as the clear courage, the essential simplicity, 
and tender memories of the man she had lost. And 
she was the more devoted to him that he had had little 
weaknesses of temper and bearing, and that an out- 
rageous campaign had been waged against him that 
did not cease with his death. He had, in some medi- 
cal periodical, published drawings of a dead dog 
clamped to display a deformity, and these had been 
seized upon by a group of anti-vivisection fanatics 
as the representation of a vivisection. A libel action 
had been pending when he died; but there is no pro- 
tection of the dead from libel. That monstrous lie 
met her on pamphlet cover, on hoardings, in sensa- 
tional appeals ; it seemed immortal, and she would 
have suffered the pains of a dozen suttees if she 
could have done so, to show the world how the power 
and tenderness of this alleged tormentor of helpless 
beasts had gripped one woman's heart. It counted 
enormously in her decision to remain a widow and 
concentrate her life upon her son. 

She watched his growth with a care and passion- 
ate subtlety that even at six-and-twenty he was still 
far from suspecting. She dreaded his becoming a 
mother's pet, she sent him away to school and fretted 
through long terms alone, that he might be made 
into a man. She interested herself in literary work 
and social affairs lest she should press upon him un- 
duly. She listened for the crude expression of grow- 
ing thought in him with an intensity that was almost 
anguish. She was too intelligent to dream of forming 
his mind, he browsed on every doctrine to find his 
own, but she did desire most passionately, she prayed, 



A TELEPHONE CALL 187 

she prayed in the darkness of sleepless nights, that 
the views, the breadths, the spacious emotions which 
had ennobled her husband in her eyes should rise 
again in him. 

There were years of doubt and waiting. He was 
a good boy and a bad boy, now brilliant, now touch- 
ing, now disappointing, now gloriously reassuring, 
and now heart-rending as only the children of our 
blood can be. He had errors and bad moments, 
lapses into sheer naughtiness, phases of indolence, 
attacks of contagious vulgarity. But more and more 
surely she saw him for his father's son; she traced 
the same great curiosities, the same keen dauntless 
questioning; whatever incidents might disturb and 
perplex her, his intellectual growth went on strong 
and clear and increasing like some sacred flame that 
is carried in procession, halting perhaps and sway- 
ing a little but keeping on, over the heads of a 
tumultuous crowd. 

He went from his school to the Royal College of 
Science, thence to successes at Cambridge, and thence 
to Berlin. He travelled a little in Asia Minor and 
Persia, had a journey to America, and then came back 
to her and London, sunburnt, moustached, manly, 
and a little strange. When he had been a boy she 
had thought his very soul pellucid; it had clouded 
opaquely against her scrutiny as he passed into ado- 
lescence. Then through the period of visits and 
departures, travel together, separations, he grew into 
something detached and admirable, a man curiously 
reminiscent of his father, unexpectedly different. She 
ceased to feel what he was feeling in his mind, had 
to watch him, infer, guess, speculate about him. She 
desired for him and dreaded for him with an undying 
tenderness, but she no longer had any assurance that 
she could interfere to help him. He had his father's 



188 MARRIAGE 

trick of falling into thought. Her brown eyes would 
watch him across the flowers and delicate glass and 
silver of her dinner table when he dined at home 
with her. Sometimes he seemed to forget she existed, 
sometimes he delighted in her, talked to amuse her, 
petted her; sometimes, and then it was she was 
happiest, he talked of plays and books with her, 
discussed general questions, spoke even of that 
broadly conceived scheme of work which engaged so 
much of his imagination. She knew that it was dis- 
tinguished and powerful work. Old friends of her 
husband spoke of it to her, praised its inspired direct- 
ness, its beautiful simplicity. Since the days of Wol- 
laston, they said, no one had been so witty an experi- 
menter, no one had got more out of mere scraps of 
apparatus or contrived more ingenious simplifications. 
When he had accepted the minor Professorship 
which gave him a footing in the world of responsible 
scientific men, she had taken a house in a quiet street 
in Chelsea which necessitated a daily walk to his 
laboratory. It was a little old Georgian house with 
worn and graceful rooms, a dignified front door and 
a fine gateway of Sussex ironwork much painted and 
eaten away. She arranged it with great care; she 
had kept most of her furniture, and his study had his 
father's bureau, and the selfsame agate paper-weight 
that had pressed the unfinished paper he left when 
he died. She was a woman of persistent friendships, 
and there came to her, old connections of those early 
times trailing fresher and younger people in their 
wake, sons, daughters, nephews, disciples ; her son 
brought home all sorts of interesting men, and it was 
remarkable to her that amidst the talk and discussion 
at her table, she discovered aspects of her son and 
often quite intimate aspects she would never have 
seen with him alone. 



A TELEPHONE CALL 189 

She would not let herself believe that this Indian 
summer of her life could last for ever. He was no 
passionless devotee of research, for all his silence and 
restraints. She had seen him kindle with anger at 
obstacles and absurdities, and quicken in the pres- 
ence of beauty. She knew how readily and richly he 
responded to beauty. Things happened to have run 
smoothly with him so far, that was all. " Of course," 
she said, " he must fall in love. It cannot be long 
before he falls in love." 

Once or twice that had seemed to happen, and 
then it had come to nothing. . . . 

She knew that sooner or later this completion of 
his possibilities must come, that the present steadfast- 
ness of purpose was a phase in which forces gathered, 
that love must sweep into his life as a deep and pas- 
sionate disturbance. She wondered where it would 
take him, whether it would leave him enriched or 
devastated. She saw at times how young he was ; she 
had, as I suppose most older people have about their 
juniors, the profoundest doubt whether he was wise 
enough yet to be trusted with a thing so good as 
himself. He had flashes of high-spirited indiscretion, 
and at times a wildfire of humour flared in his talk. 
So far that had done no worse for him than make 
an enemy or to in scientific circles. But she had no 
idea of the limits of his excitability. She would 
watch him and fear for him she knew the wreckage 
love can make and also she desired that he should 
lose nothing that life and his nature could give him. 

8 

In the two months of separation that ensued 
Defore Marjorie was one-and-twenty, Trafford's mind 
went through some remarkable phases. At first the 
excitement of his passion for Marjorie obscured 



190 MARRIAGE 

everything else, then with his return to London and 
his laboratory the immense inertia of kabit and 
slowly developed purposes, the complex yet conver- 
gent system of ideas and problems to which so much 
of his life had been given, began to reassert itself. 
His love was vivid and intense, a light in his imagi- 
nation, a fever in his blood; but it was a new thing; 
it had not crept into the flesh and bones of his being, 
it was away there in Surrey; the streets of London, 
his home, the white-walled chamber with its skylight 
and high windows and charts of constants, in which 
his apparatus was arranged, had no suggestion of 
her. She was outside an adventure a perplexing 
incommensurable with all these things. 

He had left Buryhamstreet with Marjorie riot- 
ously in possession of his mind. He could think of 
nothing but Marjorie in the train, and how she had 
shone at him in the study, and how her voice had 
sounded when she spoke, and how she stood and 
moved, and the shape and sensation of her hands, and 
how it had felt to hold her for those brief moments 
in the wood and press lips and body to his, and how 
her face had gleamed in the laced shadows of the 
moonlight, soft and wonderful. 

In fact, he thought of Marjorie. 

He thought she was splendid, courageous, wise by 
instinct. He had no doubt of her or that she was to 
be his when the weeks of waiting had passed by. 
She was his, and he was Marjorie's; that had been 
settled from the beginning of the world. It didn't 
occur to him that anything had happened to alter 
his life or any of his arrangements in any way, except 
that they were altogether altered as the world is 
altered without displacement when the sun pours- up 
in the east. He was glorified and everything was 
glorified. 



A TELEPHONE CALL 191 

He wondered how they would meet again, and 
dreamt a thousand impossible and stirring dreams, 
but he dreamt them as dreams. 

At first, to Durgan's infinite distress, he thought 
of her all day, and then, as the old familiar interests 
grappled him again, he thought of her in the morn- 
ing and the evening and as he walked between his 
home and the laboratory and at all sorts of inciden- 
tal times and even when the close-locked riddles of 
his research held the foreground and focus of his 
thoughts, he still seemed to be thinking of her as a 
radiant background to ions and molecules and atoms 
and interwoven systems of eddies and quivering oscil- 
lations deep down in the very heart of matter. 

And always he thought of her as something of 
the summer. The rich decays of autumn came, the 
Chelsea roads were littered with variegated leaves 
that were presently wet and dirty and slippery, the 
twilight crept down into the day towards five o'clock 
and four, but in his memory of her the leaves were 
green, the evenings were long, the warm quiet of 
rural Surrey in high August filled the air. So that 
it was with a kind of amazement he found her in 
London and in November close at hand. He was 
called to the college telephone one day from a con- 
versation with a proposed research student. It was 
a middle-aged woman bachelor anxious for the D.Sc., 
who wished to occupy the further bench in the la- 
boratory; but she had no mental fire, and his mind 
was busy with excuses and discouragements. 

He had no thought of Marjorie when she answer- 
ed, and for an instant he did not recognize her voice. 

" Yes, I'm Mr. Trafford." . . . 

" Who is it ?" he reiterated with a note of irasci- 
bility. " Who?" 

The little voice laughed. " Why ! I'm Marjorie !" 
it said. 



192 MARRIAGE 

Then she was back in his life like a lantern sud- 
denly become visible in a wood at midnight. 

It was like meeting her as a china figure, neat 
and perfect and two inches high. It was her voice, 
very clear and very bright, and quite characteristic, 
as though he was hearing it through the wrong end 
of a telescope. It was her voice, clear as a bell ; con- 
fident without a shadow. 

"It's me! Marjorie! I'm twenty-one to-day!'* 

It was like a little arrow of exquisite light shot 
into the very heart of his life. 

He laughed back. " Are you for meeting me 
then, Marjorie?" 



They met in Kensington Gardens with an air of 
being clandestine and defiant. It was one of those 
days of amber sunlight, soft air, and tender beauty 
with which London relieves the tragic glooms of the 
year's decline. There were still a residue of warm- 
tinted leaves in puffs and clusters upon the tree 
branches, a boat or two ruffled the blue Serpentine, 
and the waterfowl gave colour and animation to the 
selvage of the water. The sedges were still a greenish 
yellow. 

The two met shyly. They were both a little un- 
familiar to each other. Trafford was black-coated, 
silk-hatted, umbrella-d, a decorous young professor 
in the place of the cheerful aeronaut who had fallen 
so gaily out of the sky. Marjorie had a new tailor- 
made dress of russet-green, and a little cloth toque 
ruled and disciplined the hair he had known as a 
ruddy confusion. . . . They had dreamt, I think, 
of extended arms and a wild rush to embrace one 
another. Instead, they shook hands. 



A TELEPHONE CALL 193 

" And so," said Trafford, " we meet again !" 

" I don't see why we shouldn't meet !" said Mar- 
jorie. 

There was a slight pause. 

" Let's have two of those jolly little green 
chairs," said Trafford. . . . 

They walked across the grass towards the chairs 
he had indicated, and both were full of the momen- 
tous things they were finding it impossible to say. 

" There ought to be squirrels here, as there are 
in New York," he said at last. 

They sat down. There was a moment's silence, 
and then Trafford's spirit rose in rebellion and he 
plunged at this this stranger beside him. 

" Look here," he said, " do you still love me, 
Marjorie?" 

She looked up into his face with eyes in which 
surprise and scrutiny passed into something alto- 
gether beautiful. " I love you altogether," she 
said in a steady, low voice. 

And suddenly she was no longer a stranger, but 
the girl who had flitted to his arms breathless, un- 
hesitating, through the dusk. His blood quickened. 
He made an awkward gesture as though he arrested 
an impulse to touch her. " My sweetheart," he said. 
" My dear one !" 

Marjorie's face flashed responses. " It's you," 
he said. 

" Me," she answered. 

" Do you remember?" 

"Everything!" 

"My dear!" 

" I want to tell you things," said Marjorie. 
"What are we to do?" . . . 

He tried afterwards to retrace that conversation. 



194 MARRIAGE 

He was chiefly ashamed of his scientific preoccupa- 
tions during that London interval. He had thought 
of a thousand things ; Marjorie had thought of noth- 
ing else but love and him. Her happy assurance, her 
absolute confidence that his desires would march with 
hers, reproached and confuted every adverse thought 
in him as though it was a treachery to love. He had 
that sense which I suppose comes at times to every 
man, of entire unworthiness for the straight, unhesi- 
tating decision, the clear simplicity of a woman's 
passion. He had dreamt vaguely, unsubstantially, 
the while he had arranged his pressures and tempera- 
tures and infinitesimal ingredients, and worked with 
goniometer and trial models and the new calculating 
machine he had contrived for his research. But she 
had thought clearly, definitely, fully of nothing 
but coming to him. She had thought out everything 
that bore upon that; reasons for preciptance, rea- 
sons for delay, she had weighed the rewards of con- 
formity against the glamour of romance. It became 
more and more clear to him as they talked, that she 
was determined to elope with him, to go to Italy, and 
there have an extraordinarily picturesque and beauti- 
ful time. Her definiteness shamed his poverty of 
anticipation. Her enthusiasm carried him with her. 
Of course it was so that things must be done. . . . 
When at last they parted under the multiplying 
lamps of the November twilight, he turned his face 
eastward. He was afraid of his mother's eyes he 
scarcely knew why. He walked along Kensington 
Gore, and the clustering confused lights of street and 
house, white and golden and orange and pale lilac, 
the moving lamps and shining glitter of the traffic, 
the luminous interiors of omnibuses, the reflection of 
carriage and hoarding, the fading daylight overhead, 
the phantom trees to the left( the deepening shadows 



A TELEPHONE CALL 195 

and blacknesses among the houses on his right, the 
bobbing heads of wayfarers, were just for him the 
stir and hue and texture of fairyland. All the world 
was fairyland. He went to his club and dined there, 
and divided the evening between geography, as it is 
condensed in Baedeker and Murray on North Italy, 
Italian Switzerland and the Italian Riviera, and a 
study of the marriage laws as they are expounded in 
" Whitaker's Almanac," the " Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica," and other convenient works of reference. He 
replaced the books as he used them, and went at last 
from the library into the smoking-room, but seeing a 
man who might talk to him there, he went out at once 
into the streets, and fetched a wide compass by Baker 
Street, Oxford Street, and Hyde Park, home. 

He was a little astonished at himself and every- 
thing. 

But it was going to be splendid. 

(What poor things words can be!) 



He found his mother still up. She had been re- 
reading " The Old Wives' Tale," and she sat before 
a ruddy fire in the shadow beyond the lit circle of a 
green-shaded electric light thinking, with the book 
put aside. In the dimness above was his father's 
portrait. " Time you were in bed, mother," he said 
reprovingly, and kissed her eyebrow and stood above 
her. " What's the book ?" he asked, and picked it up 
and put it down, forgotten. Their eyes met. She 
perceived he had something to say ; she did not know 
what. " Where have you been ?" she asked. 

He told her, and they lapsed into silence. She 
asked another question and he answered her, and the 
indifferent conversation ended again. The silence 



196 MARRIAGE 

lengthened. Then he plunged : " I wonder, mother, 
if it would put you out very much if I brought home 
a wife to you?" 

So it had come to this and she had not seen it 
coming. She looked into the glowing recesses of the 
fire before her and controlled her voice by an effort. 
" I'd be glad for you to do it, dear if you loved 
her," she said very quietly. He stared down at her 
for a moment; then he knelt down beside her and 
took her hand and kissed it. " My dear" she whis- 
pered softly, stroking his head, and her tears came 
streaming. For a time they said no more. 

Presently he put coal on the fire, and then sitting 
on the hearthrug at her feet and looking away from 
her into the flames in an attitude that took her back 
to his boyhood he began to tell her brokenly and 
awkwardly of Marjorie. 

" It's so hard, mother, to explain these things," 
he began. " One doesn't half understand the things 
that are happening to one. I want to make you in 
love with her, dear, just as I am. And I don't see 
how I can." 

" Perhaps I shall understand, my dear. Perhaps 
I shall understand better than you think." 

" She's such a beautiful thing with something 

about her . You know those steel blades you can 

bend back to the hilt and they're steel! And she's 
tender. It's as if someone had taken tears, mother, 
and made a spirit out of them " 

She caressed and stroked his hand. " My dear," 
she said, " I know." 

" And a sort of dancing daring in her eyes." 

" Yes," she said. " But tell me where she comes 
from, and how you met her and all the circumstan- 
tial things that a sensible old woman can under- 
stand." 



A TELEPHONE CALL 197 

He kissed her hand and sat down beside her, with 
his shoulder against the arm of her chair, his fingers 
interlaced about his knee. She could not keep her 
touch from his hair, and she tried to force back the 
thought in her mind that all these talks must end, 
that very soon indeed they would end. And she was 
glad, full of pride and joy too that her son was a 
lover after her heart, a clean and simple lover as his 
father had been before him. He loved this unknown 
Marjorie, finely, sweetly, bravely, even as she herself 
could have desired to have been loved. She told her- 
self she did not care very greatly even if this Mar- 
jorie should prove unworthy. So long as her son was 
not unworthy. 

He pieced his story together. He gave her a 
picture of the Popes, Marjorie in her family like a 
jewel in an ugly setting, so it seemed to him, and the 
queer dull rage of her father and all that they meant 
to do. She tried to grasp his perplexities and advise, 
but chiefly she was filled with the thought that he was 
in love. If he wanted a girl he should have her, and 
if he had to take her by force, well, wasn't it his 
right ? She set small store upon the Popes that night 
or any circumstances. And since she herself had 
married on the slightest of security, she was concern- 
ed very little that this great adventure was to be 
attempted on an income of a few hundreds a year. 
It was outside her philosophy that a wife should be 
anything but glad to tramp the roads if need be with 
the man who loved her. He sketched out valiant 
plans, was for taking Marjorie away in the teeth of 
all opposition and bringing her back to London. It 
would have to be done decently, of course, but it 
would have, he thought, to be done. Mrs. Trafford 
found the prospect perfect ; never before had he 
sounded and looked so like that dim figure which hung 



198 MARRIAGE 

still and sympathetic above them. Ever and again 
she glanced up at her husband's quiet face. . . . 

On one point she was very clear with him. 

" You'll live with us, mother?" he said abruptly. 

" Not with you. As near as you like. But one 
house, one woman. . . . I'll have a little flat of my 
own for you both to come to me." 

" Oh, nonsense, mother ! You'll have to be with 
us. Living alone, indeed !" 

" My dear, I'd prefer a flat of my own. You 
don't understand everything. It will be better for 
all of us like that." 

There came a little pause between them, and then 
her hand was on his head again. " Oh, my dear," she 
said, " I want you to be happy. And life can be diffi- 
cult. I won't give a chance for things to go wrong. 
You're hers, dear, and you've got to be hers be each 
other's altogether. I've watched so many people. 
And that's the best, the very best you can have. 
There's just the lovers the real enduring lovers ; and 
the uncompleted people who've failed to find it." . . . 

6 

Trafford's second meeting with Marjorie, which, 
by the by, happened on the afternoon of the following 
day, brought them near to conclusive decisions. The 
stiffness of their first encounter in London had alto- 
gether vanished. She was at her prettiest and in the 
highest spirits-^and she didn't care for anything else 
in the world. A gauzy silk scarf which she had 
bought and not paid for that day floated atmospheri- 
cally about her straight trim body; her hair had 
caught the infection of insurrection and was waving 
rebelliously about her ears. As he drew near her his 
grave discretion passed from him as clouds pass from 



A TELEPHONE CALL 199 

a hillside. She smiled radiantly. He held out both 
his hands for both of hers, and never did a maiden 
come so near and yet not get a public and shameless 
kissing. 

One could as soon describe music as tell their 
conversation. It was a matter of tones and feelings. 
But the idea of flight together, of the bright awaken- 
ing in unfamiliar sunshine with none to come between 
them, had gripped them both. A certain sober grav- 
ity of discussion only masked that deeper inebriety. 
It would be easy for them to get away; he had no 
lectures until February; he could, he said, make ar- 
rangements, leave his research. She dreaded dis- 
putation. She was for a simple disappearance, notes 
on pincushions and defiantly apologetic letters from 
Boulogne, but his mother's atmosphere had been a 
gentler one than her home's, with a more powerful 
disposition to dignity. He still couldn't understand 
that the cantankerous egotism of Pope was indeed the 
essential man ; it seemed to him a crust of bad man- 
ners that reason ought to pierce. 

The difference in their atmospheres came out in 
their talk in his desire for a handsome and dignified 
wedding though the very heavens protested and 
her resolve to cut clear of every one, to achieve a sort 
of gaol delivery of her life, make a new beginning 
altogether, with the minimum of friction and the 
maximum of surprise. Unused to fighting, he was 
magnificently prepared to fight; she, with her inti- 
mate knowledge of chronic domestic conflict, was for 
the evasion of all the bickerings, scoldings, and mis- 
representations his challenge would occasion. He 
thought in his innocence a case could be stated and 
discussed; but no family discussion she had ever 
heard had even touched the realities of the issue that 
occasioned it. 



200 MARRIAGE 

" I don't like this underhand preparation," he 
said. 

" Nor I," she echoed. " But what can one do?" 

" Well, oughtn't I to go to your father and give 
him a chance? Why shouldn't I? It's the dignified 
way." 

" It won't be dignified for father," said Marjorie, 
*' anyhow." 

" But what right has he to object?" 

" He isn't going to discuss his rights with you. 
He will object." 

" But o%?" 

" Oh ! because he's started that way. He hit you. 
I haven't forgotten it. Well, if he goes back on that 

now He'd rather die than go back on it. You 

see, he's ashamed in his heart. It would be like con- 
fessing himself wrong not to keep it up that you're 
the sort of man one hits. He just hates you because 
he hit you. I haven't been his daughter for twenty- 
one years for nothing." 

" I'm thinking of us," said Traffqrd. " I don't 
see we oughtn't to go to him just because he's likely 
to be unreasonable." 

" My dear, do as you please. He'll forbid and 
shout, and hit tables until things break. Suppose he 
locks me up !" 

" Oh, Habeas Corpus, and my strong right arm ! 
He's much more likely to turn you out-of-doors." 

" Not if he thinks the other will annoy you more. 
I'll have to bear a storm." 

" Not for long." 

" He'll bully mother till she cries over me. But 

do as you please. She'll come and she'll beg me 

Do as you please. Perhaps I'm a coward. I'd far 
rather I could slip away." 

Trafford thought for a moment. " I'd far rather 



A TELEPHONE CALL 201 

you could," he answered, in a voice that spoke of 
inflexible determinations. 

They turned to the things they meant to do. 
" Italy!" she whispered, " Italy!" Her face was 
alight with her burning expectation of beauty, of 
love, of the new heaven and the new earth that lay 
before them. The intensity of that desire blazing 
through her seemed to shame his dull discretions. He 
had to cling to his resolution, lest it should vanish in 
that contagious intoxication. 

" You understand I shall come to your father," 
he said, as they drew near the gate where it seemed 
discreet for them to part. 

" It will make it harder to get away," she said, 
with no apparent despondency. " It won't stop us. 
Oh ! do as you please." 

She seemed to dismiss the question, and stood 
hand-in-hand with him in a state of glowing gravity. 
She wouldn't see him again for four-and-twenty hours. 
Then a thought came into her head a point of 
great practical moment. 

" Oh !" she said, " of course, you won't tell 
father you've seen me." 

She met his eye. " Really you mustn't," she said. 
" You see he'll make a row with mother for not 
having watched me better. I don't know what he 
isn't likely to do. It isn't myself This is a con- 
fidential communication all this. No one in this 
world knows I am meeting you. If you must go to 
him, go to him." 

" For myself?" 

She nodded, with her open eyes on his eyes that 
looked now very blue and very grave, and her lips a 
little apart. 

She surprised him a little, but even this sudden 
weakness seemed adorable. 



202 MARRIAGE 

" All right," he said. 

" You don't think that I'm shirking ?" she 

asked, a little too eagerly. 

" You know your father best," he answered. 
" I'll tell you all he says and all the terror of him here 
to-morrow afternoon." 

7 

In the stillness of the night Trafford found him- 
self thinking over Marjorie; it was a new form of 
mental exercise, which was destined to play a large 
part in his existence for many subsequent years. 
There had come a shadow on his confidence in her. 
She was a glorious person; she had a kind of fire 
behind her and in her shining through her, like 

the lights in a fire-opal, but He wished she had 

not made him promise to conceal their meeting and 
their close co-operation from her father. Why did 
she do that? It would spoil his case with her father, 
and it could forward things for them in no conceiv- 
able way. And from that, in some manner too subtle 
to trace, he found his mind wandering to another 
problem, which was destined to reappear with a 
slowly dwindling importance very often in this pro- 
cedure of thinking over Marjorie in the small hours. 
It was the riddle it never came to him in the day- 
time, but only in those intercalary and detachedly 
critical periods of thought why exactly had she 
engaged herself to Magnet? Why had she? He 
couldn't imagine himself, in Marjorie's position, 
doing anything of the sort. Marjorie had ways of 
her own ; she was different. . . . Well, anyhow, 
she was splendid 1 and loving and full of courage. 
. . . He had got no further than this when at last 
he fell asleep. 



A TELEPHONE CALL 203 

8 

Trafford's little attempt to regularise his position 
was as creditable to him as it was inevitably futile. 
He sought out 29, Hartstone Square in the morning 
on his way to his laboratory, and he found it one of 
a great row of stucco houses each with a portico and 
a dining-room window on the ground floor, and each 
with a railed area from which troglodytic servants 
peeped. Collectively the terrace might claim a cer- 
tain ugly dignity of restraint, there was none of your 
Queen Anne nonsense of art or beauty about it, and 
the narrow height, the subterranean kitchens of each 
constituent house, told of a steep relentless staircase 
and the days before the pampering of the lower class- 
es began. The houses formed a square, as if the 
British square so famous at Waterloo for its dogged 
resistance to all the forces of the universe had immor- 
talized itself in buildings, and they stared upon a 
severely railed garden of hardy shrubs and gravel to 
which the tenants had the inestimable privilege of 
access. They did not use it much, that was their 
affair, but at any rate they had keys and a nice 
sense of rights assured, and at least it kept other 
people out. 

Tr afford turned out of a busy high road full of 
the mixed exhilarating traffic of our time, and came 
along a quiet street into this place, and it seemed to 
him he had come into a corner of defence and retreat, 
into an atmosphere of obstinate and unteachable 
resistances. But this illusion of conservativism in its 
last ditch wag dispelled altogether in Mr. Pope's por- 
tico. Youth flashed out of these solemnities like a 
dart shot from a cave. Trafford was raising his 
hand to the solid brass knocker when abruptly it was 
snatched from his fingers, the door was flung open 



204 MARRIAGE 

and a small boy with a number of dirty books in a 
strap flew out and hit him with projectile violence. 

" Blow !" said the young gentleman recoiling, and 
Trafford recovering said : " Hullo, Theodore !" 

" Lord !" said Theodore breathless, " It's you ! 
What a lark! Your name's never mentioned no 
how. What did you do? . . . Wish I could stop 
and see it! I'm ten minutes late. Ave atque vale. 
So long!" 

He vanished with incredible velocity. And Mr. 
Trafford was alone in possession of the open doorway 
except for Toupee, who after a violent outbreak of 
hostility altered his mind and cringed to his feet in 
abject and affectionate propitiation. A pseudo-twin 
appeared, said " Hello !" and vanished, and then he 
had an instant's vision of Mr. Pope, newspaper in 
hand, appearing from the dining-room. His expres- 
sion of surprise changed to malevolence, and he dart- 
ed back into the room from which he had emerged. 
Trafford decided to take the advice of a small brass 
plate on his left hand, and " ring also." 

A housemaid came out of the bowels of the earth 
very promptly and ushered him up two flights of 
stairs into what was manifestly Mr. Pope's study. 

It was a narrow, rather dark room lit by two 
crimson-curtained windows, and with a gas fire before 
which Mr. Pope's walking boots were warming for 
the day. The apartment revealed to Trafford's cur- 
sory inspection many of the stigmata of an English- 
man of active intelligence and literary tastes. There 
in the bookcase were the collected works of Scott, a 
good large illustrated Shakespeare in numerous vol- 
umes, and a complete set of bound Punches from the 
beginning. A pile of back numbers of the Times 
stood on a cane stool in a corner, and in a little book- 
case handy for the occupier of the desk were Whita- 



A TELEPHONE CALL 205 

ker, Wisden and an old peerage. The desk bore 
traces of recent epistolary activity, and was littered 
with the printed matter of Aunt Plessington's move- 
ments. Two or three recent issues of The Financial 
Review of Reviews were also visible. About the room 
hung steel engravings apparently of defunct judges 
or at any rate of exceedingly grim individuals, and 
over the mantel were trophies of athletic prowess, a 
bat witnessing that Mr. Pope had once captained the 
second eleven at Harrogby. 

Mr. Pope entered with a stern expression and a 
sentence prepared. " Well, sir," he said with a note 
of ironical affability, " to what may I ascribe this 
intrusion ?" 

Mr. Traiford was about to reply when Mr. Pope 
interrupted. " Will you be seated," he said, and 
turned 1 his desk chair about for himself, and occupy- 
ing it, crossed his legs and pressed the finger tips of 
his two hands together. " Well, sir?" he said. 

Trafford remained standing astraddle over the 
boots before the gas fire. 

" Look here, sir," he said ; " I am in love with your 
daughter. She's one and twenty, and I want to see 

her and in fact " He found it hard to express 

himself. He could think only of a phrase that sound- 
ed ridiculous. " I want in fact to pay my ad- 
dresses to her." 

" Well, sir, I don't want you to do so. That is 
too mild. I object strongly very strongly. My 
daughter has been engaged to a very distinguished 
and able man, and I hope very shortly to hear that 

that engagement Practically it is still going on. 

I don't want you to intrude upon my daughter fur- 
ther." 

" But look here, sir. There's a certain justice 
I mean a certain reasonableness- - " 



206 MARRIAGE 

Mr. Pope held out an arresting hand. " I don't 
wish it. Let that be enough." 

" Of course it isn't enough. I'm in love with her 
and she with me. I'm an entirely reputable and 
decent person " 

" May I be allowed to judge what is or is not 

suitable companionship for my daughter and what 

may or may not be the present state of her affec- 
tions?" 

" Well, that's rather the point we are discussing. 
After all, Marjorie isn't a baby. I want to do all 
this this affair, openly and properly if I can, but, 
you know, I mean to marry Marjorie anyhow." 

" There are two people to consult in that matter." 

" I'll take the risk of that." 

" Permit me to differ." 

A feeling of helplessness came over Trafford. The 
curious irritation Mr. Pope always roused in him 
began to get the better of him. His face flushed 
hotly. " Oh really ! really ! this is this is non- 
sense!" he cried. "I never heard anything so child- 
ish and pointless as your objection " 

" Be careful, sir !" cried Mr. Pope, " be careful !" 

" I'm going to marry Marjorie." 

" If she marries you, sir, she shall never darken 
my doors again 1" 

" If you had a thing against me 1" 

"Haven't I!" 

"What have you?" 

There was a quite perceptible pause before Pope 
fired his shot. 

" Does any decent man want the name of Traf- 
ford associated with his daughter. Trafford! Look 
at the hoardings, sir!" 

A sudden blaze of anger lit Trafford. " My 
God !" he cried and clenched his fists and seemed for 



A TELEPHONE CALL 207 

a moment ready to fall upon the man before him. 
Then he controlled himself by a violent effort. " You 
believe in that libel on my dead father?" he said, 
with white lips. 

" Has it ever been answered?" 

" A hundred times. And anyhow ! Confound it ! 
I don't believe you believe it. You've raked it up 
as an excuse ! You want an excuse for your infernal 
domestic tyranny ! That's the truth of it. You can't 
bear a creature in your household to have a will or 
preference of her own. I tell you, sir, you are intol- 
erable intolerable !" 

He was shouting, and Pope was standing now and 
shouting too. " Leave my house, sir. Get out of 
my house, sir. You come here to insult me, sir!" 

A sudden horror of himself and Pope seized the 
younger man. He stiffened and became silent. Never 
in his life before had he been in a bawling quarrel. 
He was amazed and ashamed. 

" Leave my house !" cried Pope with an imperious 
gesture towards the door. 

Trafford made an absurd effort to save the situa- 
tion. " I am sorry, sir, I lost my temper. I had no 
business to abuse you " 

" You've said enough." 

" I apologise for that. I've done what I could to 
manage things decently." 

" Will you go, sir?" threatened Mr. Pope. 

" I'm sorry I came," said Trafford. 

Mr. Pope took his stand with folded arms and an 
expression of weary patience. 

" I did what I could," said Trafford at the door. 

The staircase and passage were deserted. The 
whole house seemed to have caught from Mr. Pope 
that same quality of seeing him out. ... 



208 MARRIAGE 

"Confound it!" said Trafford in the street. 
" How on earth did all this happen?" . . . 

He turned eastward, and then realized that work 
would be impossible that day. He changed his direc- 
tion for Kensington Gardens, and in the flower-bor- 
dered walk near the Albert Memorial he sat down 
on a chair, and lugged at his moustache and won- 
dered. He was extraordinarily perplexed, as well as 
ashamed and enraged by this uproar. How had it 
begun? Of course, he had been stupidly abusive, but 
the insult to his father had been unendurable. Did a 
man of Pope's sort quite honestly believe that stuff? 
If he didn't, he deserved kicking. If he did, of course 
he was entitled to have it cleared up. But then he 
wouldn't listen ! Was there any case for the man at 
all? Had he, Trafford, really put the thing so that 
Pope would listen? He couldn't remember. What 
was it he had said in reply to Pope? What was it 
exactly that Pope had said? 

It was already vague; it was a confused memory 
of headlong words and answers ; what wasn't vague, 
what rang in his ears still, was the hoarse discord of 
two shouting voices. 

Could Marjorie have heard? 



So Marjorie carried her point. She wasn't to be 
married tamely after the common fashion which trails 
home and all one's beginnings into the new life. She 
was to be eloped with, romantically and splendidly, 
into a glorious new world. She walked on shining 
clouds, and if she felt some remorse, it was a very 
tender and satisfactory remorse, and with a clear 
conviction below it that in the end she would be 
forgiven. 



A TELEPHONE CALL 209 

They made all their arrangements elaborately and 
carefully. Trafford got a license to marry her; she 
was to have a new outfit from .top to toe to go away 
with on that eventful day. It accumulated in the 
shop, and they marked the clothes M.T. She was 
watched, she imagined, but as her father did not 
know she had seen Trafford, nothing had been said to 
her, and no attempt was made to prohibit her going 
out and coming in. Trafford entered into the con- 
spiracy with a keen interest, a certain amusement, 
and a queer little feeling of distaste. He hated to 
hide any act of his from any human being. The very 
soul of scientific work, you see, is publication. But 
Marjorie seemed to justify all things, and when his 
soul turned against furtiveness, he reminded it that 
the alternative was bawling. 

One eventful afternoon he went to the college, and 
Marjorie slipped round by his arrangement to have 
tea with Mrs. Trafford. . . . 

He returned about seven in a state of nervous 
apprehension ; came upstairs two steps at a time, and 
stopped breathless on the landing. He gulped as he 
came in, and his eyes were painfully eager. She's 
been?" he asked. 

But Marjorie had won Mrs. Trafford. 

" She's been," she answered. " Yes, she's all right, 
my dear." 

"Oh, mother!" he said. 

" She's a beautiful creature, dear and such a 
child ! Oh ! such a child ! And God bless you, dear, 
God bless you. . . . 

" I think all young people are children. I want to 
take you both in my arms and save you. . . . I'm 
talking nonsense, dear." 

He kissed her, and she clung to him as if he were 
something too precious to release. 




210 



The elopement was a little complicated by a sur- 
prise manoeuvre of Mrs. Pope's. She was more alive 
to the quality of the situation, poor lady! than her 
daughter suspected; she was watching, dreading, 
perhaps even furtively sympathizing and trying to 
arrange oh ! trying dreadfully to arrange. She had 
an instinctive understanding of the deep blue quiet in 
Marjorie's eyes, and the girl's unusual tenderness 
with Daffy and the children. She peeped under the 
blind as Marjorie went out, noted the care in her 
dress, watched her face as she returned, never plumb- 
ed her with a question for fear of the answer. She 
did not dare to breathe a hint of her suspicions to 
her husband, but she felt things were adrift in swift, 
smooth water, and all her soul cried out for delay. 
So presently there came a letter from Cousin Susan 
Pendexter at Plymouth. The weather was beautiful, 
Marjorie must come at once, pack up and come and 
snatch the last best glow of the dying autumn away 
there in the west. Marjorie's jerry-built excuses, 
her manifest chagrin and reluctance, confirmed her 
mother's worst suspicions. 

She submitted and went, and Mrs. Pope and Syd 
saw her off. 

I do not like to tell how a week later Marjorie 
explained herself and her dressing-bag and a few 
small articles back to London from Plymouth. Suf- 
fice it that she lied desperately and elaborately. Her 
mother had never achieved such miracles of mis-state- 
ment, and she added a vigour that was all her own. 
It is easier to sympathize with her than exonerate 
her. She was in a state of intense impatience, and 
what is strange extraordinarily afraid that some- 
thing would separate her from her lover if she did 



A TELEPHONE CALL 211 

not secure him. She was in a fever of determination. 
She could not eat or sleep or attend to anything what- 
ever ; she was occupied altogether with the thought of 
assuring herself to Trafford. He towered in her 
waking vision over town and land and sea. 

He didn't hear the lies she told ; he only knew she 
was magnificently coming back to him. He met her at 
Paddington, a white-faced, tired, splendidly resolute 
girl, and they went to the waiting registrar's forth- 
with. 

She bore herself with the intentness and dignity of 
one who is taking the cardinal step in life. They 
kissed as though it was a symbol, and were keenly 
business-like about cabs and luggage and trains. At 
last they were alone in the train together. They 
stared at one another. 

" We've done it, Mrs. Trafford !" said Trafford. 

She snapped like an over-taut string, crumpled, 
clung to him, and without a word was weeping pas- 
sionately in his arms. 

It surprised him that she could weep as she did, 
and still more to see her as she walked by his side 
along the Folkestone pier, altogether recovered, 
erect, a little flushed and excited like a child. She 
seemed to miss nothing. " Oh, smell the sea !" she 
said, " Look at the lights ! Listen to the swish of the 
water below." She watched the luggage spinning on 
the wire rope of the giant crane, and he watched her 
face and thought how beautiful she was. He won- 
dered why her eyes could sometimes be so blue and 
sometimes dark as night. 

The boat cleared the pier and turned about and 
headed for France. They walked the upper deck 
together and stood side by side, she very close to him. 

" I've never crossed the sea before," she said. 

" Old England," she whispered. " It's like leav- 



212 MARRIAGE 

ing a nest. A little row of lights and that's all the 
world I've ever known, shrunken to that already." 

Presently they went forward and peered into the 
night. 

" Look !" she said. " Italy! There's sunshine 
and all sorts of beautiful things ahead. Warm sun- 
shine, wonderful old ruins, green lizards. . . ." 
She paused and whispered almost noiselessly: 
" love - " 

They pressed against each other. 

"And yet isn't it strange? All you can see is 
darkness, and clouds and big waves that hiss as they 
come near. . . ." 



Italy gave all her best to welcome them. It was a 
late year, a golden autumn, with skies of such blue as 
Marjorie had never seen before. They stayed at first 
in a pretty little Italian hotel with a garden on the 
lake, and later they walked over Salvator to Morcote 
and by boat to Ponte Tresa, and thence they had the 
most wonderful and beautiful tramp in the world to 
Luino, over the hills by Castelrotto. To the left of 
them all day was a broad valley with low-lying vil- 
lages swimming in a luminous mist, to the right were 
purple mountains. They passed through paved 
streets with houses the colour of flesh and ivory, with 
balconies hung with corn and gourds, with tall church 
campaniles rising high, and great archways giving 
upon the blue lowlands ; they tramped along avenues 
of sweet chestnut and between stretches of exuberant 
vineyard, in which men and women were gathering 
grapes purple grapes, a hatful for a soldo, that 
rasped the tongue. Everything was strange and 
wonderful to Marjorie's eyes ; now it would be a wav- 



A TELEPHONE CALL 213 

side shrine and now a yoke of soft-going, dewlapped 
oxen, now a chapel hung about with ex votos, and 
now some unfamiliar cultivation or a gipsy-eyed 
child or a scorpion that scuttled in the dust. The 
very names of the villages were like jewels to her, 
Varasca, Croglio, Ronca, Sesia, Monteggio. They 
walked, or sat by the wayside and talked, or rested at 
the friendly table of some kindly albergo. A woman 
as beautiful as Ceres, with a white neck all open, 
made them an omelette, and then fetched her baby 
from its cradle to nurse it while she talked to them 
as they made their meal. And afterwards she filled 
their pockets with roasted chestnuts, and sent them 
with melodious good wishes upon their way. And 
always high over all against the translucent blue 
hung the white shape of Monte Rosa, that warmed 
in colour as the evening came. 

Marjorie's head was swimming with happiness 
and beauty, and with every fresh delight she recurred 
again to the crowning marvel of this clean-limbed 
man beside her, who smiled and carried all her lug- 
gage in a huge rucksack that did not seem to exist for 
him, and watched hef and caressed her and was 
hers, Tiers! 

At Baveno there were letters. They sat at a little 
table outside a cafe and read them, suddenly mind- 
ful of England again. Incipient forgiveness showed 
through Mrs. Pope's reproaches, and there was also a 
simple, tender love-letter (there is no other word for 
it) from old Mrs. Trafford to her son. 

From Baveno they set off up Monte Mottarone 
whence one may see the Alps from Visto to Ortler 
Spitz trusting to find the inn still open, and if it was 
closed to get down to Orta somehow before night. Or 
at the worst sleep upon the mountain side. 



214 MARRIAGE 

(Monte Mottarone ! Just for a moment taste the 
sweet Italian name upon your lips.) These were the 
days before the funicular from Stresa, when one 
trudged up a rude path through the chestnuts and 
walnuts. 

As they ascended the long windings through the 
woods, they met an old poet and his wife, coming down 
from sunset and sunrise. There was a word or two 
about the inn, and they went upon their way. The 
old man turned ever and again to look at them. 

" Adorable young people," he said. " Adorable 
happy young people. . . . 

" Did you notice, dear, how she held that dainty 
little chin of hers ? . . . 

" Pride is such a good thing, my dear, clear, 
straight pride like theirs and they were both so 
proud! . . . 

" Isn't it good, dear, to think that once you and I 
may have looked like that to some passer-by. I wish 
I could bless them sweet, swift young things! I 
wish, dear, it was possible for old men to bless young 
people without seeming to set up for saints. . . . " 



BOOK THE SECOND 
MARJORIE MARRIED 



CHAPTER THE FIRST 

SETTLING DOWN 

1 

IT was in a boat among reeds upon the lake of Orta 
that Trafford first became familiarized with the idea 
that Marjorie was capable of debt. 

" Oh, I ought to have told you," she began, 
apropos of nothing. 

Her explanation was airy; she had let the thing 
slip out of her mind for a time. But there were 
various debts to Oxbridge tradespeople. How much? 
Well, rather a lot. Of course, the tradespeople were 

rather enticing when first one went up How much, 

anyhow ? 

" Oh, about fifty pounds," said Marjorie, after 
her manner. " Not more. I've not kept all the bills ; 
and some haven't come in. You know how slow they 
are." 

" These things will happen," said' Trafford, 
though, as a matter of fact, nothing of the sort had 
happened in his case. " However, you'll be able to 
pay as soon as you get home, and get them all off 
your mind." 

" I think fifty pounds will clear me," said Mar- 
jorie, clinging to her long-established total, " if you'll 
let me have that." 

" Oh, we don't do things like that," said Trafford. 
" I'm arranging that my current account will be a 
sort of joint account, and your signature will be as 
good as mine for the purpose of drawing, at least. 
You'll have your own cheque-book " 

" I don't understand, quite," said Marjorie. 

217 



218 MARRIAGE 

" You'll have your own cheque-book and write 
cheques as you want them. That seems the simplest 
way to me." 

" Of course," said Marjorie. " But isn't this 
rather unusual? Father always used to allowance 
mother." 

" It's the only decent way according to my ideas," 
said Trafford. " A man shouldn't marry when he 
can't trust." 

" Of course not," said Marjorie. Something be- 
tween fear and compunction wrung her. " Do you 
think you'd better?" she asked, very earnestly. 

" Better?" 

" Do this." 

" Why not?" 

" It's it's so generous." 

He didn't answer. He took up an oar and began 
to push out from among the reeds with something of 
the shy awkwardness of a boy who becomes apprehen- 
sive of thanks. He stole a glance at her presently and 1 
caught her expression there was something very 
solemn and intent in her eyes and he thought what a 
grave, fine thing his Marjorie could be. 

But, indeed, her state of mind was quite excep- 
tionally confused. She was disconcerted and hor- 
ribly afraid of herself. 

" Do you mean that I can spend what I like ?" 
asked Marjorie. 

" Just as I may," he said. 

" I wonder," said Marjorie again, " if I'd better." 

She was tingling with delight at this freedom, and 
she knew she was not fit for its responsibility. She 
just came short of a passionate refusal of his pro- 
posal. He was still so new to her, and things were 
so wonderful, or I think she would have made that 
refusal. 



SETTLING DOWN 219 

" You've got to," said Trafford, and ended the 
matter. 

So Marjorie was silent making good resolutions. 



Perhaps some day it may be possible to tell in 
English again, in the language of Shakspeare and 
Herrick, of the passion, the tenderness, the beauty, 
and the delightful familiarizations of a happy honey- 
moon ; suffice it now, in this delicate period, to record 
only how our two young lovers found one day that 
neither had a name for the other. He said she could 
be nothing better than Marjorie to him; and she, 
after a number of unsuccessful experiments, settled 
down to the old school-boy nickname made out of his 
initials, R. A. G. 

" Dick," she said, " is too bird-like and boy-like. 
Andrew I can't abide. Goodwin gives one no chances 
for current use. Rag you must be. Mag and Rag 
poor innocents! Old rag!" 

" Mag," he said, " has its drawbacks ! The street- 
boy in London says, ' Shut your mag.' No, I think I 
shall stick to Marjorie. . . ." 

All honeymoons must end at last, so back they 
came to London, still very bright and happy. And 
then, Marjorie, whose eyes had changed from flashing 
stones to darkly shining pools of blue, but whose 
soul had still perhaps to finds its depths, set herself 
to the business of decorating and furnishing the lit- 
tle house Mrs. Trafford had found for them within 
ten minutes of her own. Meanwhile they lived in 
lodgmgs. 

There can be no denying that Marjorie began her 
furnishing with severely virtuous intentions. She was 
very particular to ask Trafford several times what he 



220 MARRIAGE 

thought she might spend upon the enterprise. He had 
already a bedroom and a study equipped, and he 
threw out three hundred pounds as his conception of 
an acceptable figure. " Very well," said Marjorie, 
with a note of great precision, " now I shall know," 
and straightway that sum took a place in her imagina- 
tion that was at once definitive and protective, just 
as her estimate of fifty pounds for her Oxbridge debts 
had always been. She assured herself she was going 
to do things, and she assured herself she was doing 
things, on three hundred pounds. At times the as- 
tonishment of two or three school friends, who joined 
her in her shopping, stirred her to a momentary sur- 
prise at the way she was managing to keep things 
within that limit, and following a financial method 
that had, after all, in spite of some momentary and 
already nearly forgotten distresses, worked very well 
at Oxbridge, she refrained from any additions until 
all the accounts had come to hand. 

It was an immense excitement shopping to make a 
home. There was in her composition a strain of con- 
structive artistry with such concrete things, a strain 
that had hitherto famished. She was making a beau- 
tiful, secure little home for Trafford, for herself, for 
possibilities remote perhaps, but already touching 
her imagination with the anticipation of warm, new, 
wonderful delights. There should be simplicity in- 
deed in this home, but no bareness, no harshness, 
never an ugliness nor a discord. She had always 
loved colour in the skies, in the landscapes, in the 
texture of stuffs and garments; now out of the cha- 
otic skein of countless shops she could choose and pick 
and mingle her threads in a glow of feminine self- 
expression. 

On three hundred pounds, that is to say as a 
maximum. 



SETTLING DOWN 221 

The house she had to deal with was, like Mrs. 
Trafford's, old and rather small; it was partly to 
its lack of bedroom accommodation, but much more 
to the invasion of the street by the back premises of 
Messrs. Siddons & Thrale, the great Chelsea outfit- 
ters, that the lowness of the rent was due, a lowness 
which brought it within the means of Trafford. Mar- 
jorie knew very clearly that her father would say her 
husband had taken her to live in a noisy slum, and 
that made her all the keener to ensure that every 
good point in the interior told to its utmost, and that 
whatever was to be accessible to her family should 
glow with a refined but warm prosperity. The room 
downstairs was shapely, and by ripping off the pa- 
pered canvas of the previous occupier, some very 
dilapidated but admirably proportioned panelling 
was brought to light. The dining-room and study 
door on the ground floor, by a happy accident, were 
of mahogany, with really very beautiful brass fur- 
nishings ; and the dining-room window upon the min- 
ute but by no means offensive paved garden behind, 
was curved and had a little shallow balcony of iron- 
work, half covered by a devitalized but leafy grape- 
vine. Moreover, the previous occupier had equipped 
the place with electric light and a bath-room of almost 
American splendour on the landing, glass-shelved, 
white-tiled, and white painted, so that it was a delight 
to go into. 

Marjorie's mind leapt very rapidly to the possi- 
bilities of this little establishment. The panelling must 
be done and done well, anyhow ; that would be no more 
than a wise economy, seeing it might at any time help 
them to re-let; it would be painted white, of course, 
and thus set the key for a clean brightness of colour 
throughout. The furniture would stand out against 
the softly shining white, and its line and proportions 



222 MARRIAGE 

must be therefore the primary qualities to consider as 
she bought it. The study was much narrower than the 
dining-room, and so the passage, which the agent 
called the hall, was much broader and more com- 
modious behind the happily wide staircase than in 
front, and she was able to banish out of the sight of 
the chance visitor all that litter of hat-stand and 
umbrella-stand, letters, boxes arriving and parcels 
to post, which had always offended her eye at home. 
At home there had been often the most unsightly 
things visible, one of Theo's awful caps, or his school 
books, and not infrequently her father's well-worn 
and all too fatally comfortable house slippers. A 
good effect at first is half the victory of a well done 
house, and Marjorie accomplished another of her 
real economies here by carpeting hall and staircase 
with a fine-toned, rich-feeling and rather high-priced 
blue carpet, held down by very thick brass stair-rods. 
She hung up four well-chosen steel engravings, put a 
single Chippendale chair in the hall, and a dark old 
Dutch clock that had turned out to be only five pounds 
when she had expected the shopman to say eleven or 
twelve, on the half-landing. That was all. Round the 
corner by the study door was a mahogany slab, and 
the litter all went upon a capacious but very simple 
dark-stained hat-stand and table that were out of the 
picture entirely until you reached the stairs. 

Her dining-room was difficult for some time. She 
had equipped that with a dark oak Welsh dresser 
made very bright with a dessert service that was, in 
view of its extremely decorative quality, remarkably 
cheap, and with some very pretty silver-topped glass 
bottles and flasks. This dresser and a number of 
simple but shapely facsimiles of old chairs, stood out 
against a nearly primrose paper, very faintly pat- 
terned, and a dark blue carpet with a margin of dead 



SETTLING DOWN 223 

black-stained wood. Over the mantel was a German 
colour-print of waves full of sunlight breaking under 
cliffs, and between this and the window were dark 
bookshelves and a few bright-coloured books. On the 
wall, black-framed, were four very good Japanese 
prints, rich in greenish-blues and blueish-greys that 
answered the floor, and the window curtains took up 
some of the colours of the German print. But some- 
thing was needed towards the window, she felt, to 
balance the warmly shining plates upon the dresser. 
The deep rose-red of the cherries that adorned them 
was too isolated, usurped too dominating a value. 
And while this was weighing upon her mind she saw 
in a window in Regent Street a number of Bokhara 
hangings very nobly displayed. They were splendid 
pieces of needlework, particularly glorious in their 
crimsons and reds, and suddenly it came to her that 
it was just one of these, one that had great ruby 
flowers upon it with dead-blue interlacings, that was 
needed to weld her gay-coloured scheme together. She 
hestitated, went half-way to Piccadilly Circus, turned 
back and asked the prices. The prices were towering 
prices, ten, fifteen, eighteen guineas, and when at last 
the shopman produced one with all the charm of 
colour she sought at eight, it seemed like ten guineas 
snatched back as they dropped from her hands. And 
still hesitating, she had three that pleased her most 
sent home, " on approval," before she decided finally 
to purchase one of them. But the trial was con- 
clusive. And then, struck with a sudden idea, she 
carried off a long narrow one she had had no idea of 
buying before into the little study behind. Suppose, 
she thought, instead of hanging two curtains as any- 
body else would do in that window, she ran this glory 
of rich colour across from one side on a great rod of 
brass. 



224 MARRIAGE 

She was giving the study the very best of her 
attention. After she had lapsed in some other part 
of the house from the standards of rigid economy she 
had set up, she would as it were restore the balance by 
adding something to the gracefully dignified arrange- 
ment of this den he was to use. And the brass rod 
of the Bokhara hanging that was to do instead of 
curtains released her mind somehow to the purchase of 
certain old candlesticks she had hitherto resisted. 
They were to stand, bored to carry candle electric 
lights, on either corner of the low bookcase that faced 
the window. They were very heavy, very shapely 
candlesticks, and they cost thirty-five shillings. They 
looked remarkably well when they were put up, except 
that a sort of hollowness appeared between them and 
clamoured for a delightful old brass-footed workbox 
she had seen in a shop in Baker Street. Enquiry 
confirmed her quick impression that this was a gen- 
uine piece (of quite exceptional genuineness) and that 
the price they asked five pounds ten and came down 
to five guineas was in accordance with this. It was 
a little difficult (in spite of the silent hunger between 
the candlesticks) to reconcile this particular article 
with her dominating idea of an austerely restrained 
expenditure, until she hit upon the device of calling 
it a Tiors d'ceuvre, and regarding it not as furniture 
but as a present from herself to Trafford that hap- 
pened to fall in very agreeably with the process of 
house furnishing. She decided she would some day 
economise its cost out of her dress allowance. The 
bookcase on which it stood was a happy discovery 
in Kensington, just five feet high, and with beautiful 
oval glass fronts, and its capacity was supplemented 
and any excess in its price at least morally compen- 
sated by a very tall, narrow, distinguished-looking 
set of open shelves that had been made for some 



SETTLING DOWN 225 

special corner in another house, and which anyhow 
were really and truly dirt cheap. The desk combined 
grace and good proportions to an admirable extent, 
the fender of pierced brass looked as if it had always 
lived in immediate contact with the shapely old white 
marble fireplace, and the two arm-chairs were mar- 
vels of dignified comfort. By the fireplace were a 
banner-shaped needlework firescreen, a white sheep- 
skin hearthrug, a little patch and powder table 
adapted to carry books, and a green-shaded lamp, 
grouped in a common inaudible demand for a reader 
in slippers. Trafford, when at last the apartment 
was ready for his inspection, surveyed these arrange- 
ments with a kind of dazzled admiration. 

" By Jove !" he said. " How little people know 
of the homes of the Poor !" 

Marjorie was so delighted with his approval that 
she determined to show Mrs. Trafford next day how 
prettily at least her son was going to live. The good 
lady came and admired everything, and particularly 
the Bokhara hangings. She did not seem to appraise, 
but something set Marjorie talking rather nervously 
of a bargain-hunter's good fortune. Mrs. Trafford 
glanced at the candlesticks and the low bookcase, and 
returned to the glowing piece of needlework that 
formed the symmetrical window curtain in the study. 
She took it in her hand, and whispered, " beautiful !" 

" But aren't these rather good?" asked Mrs. 
Trafford. 

Marjorie answered, after a little pause. " They're 
not too good for him," she said. 



And now these young people had to resume life in 
London in earnest. The orchestral accompaniment 



226 MARRIAGE 

of the world at large began to mingle with their hith- 
erto unsustained duet. It had been inaudible in Italy. 
In Chelsea it had sounded, faintly perhaps but dis- 
tinctly, from their very first inspection of the little 
house. A drawing-room speaks of callers, a dining- 
room of lunch-parties and dinners. It had swayed 
Marjorie from the front door inward. 

During their honeymoon they had been gloriously 
unconscious of comment. Now Marjorie began to 
show herself keenly sensitive to the advent of a score 
of personalities, and very anxious to show just how 
completely successful in every sense her romantic dis- 
obedience had been. She knew she had been approved 
of, admired, condemned, sneered at, thoroughly dis- 
cussed. She felt it her first duty to Trafford, to all 
who had approved of her flight, to every one, herself 
included, to make this marriage obviously, indisput- 
ably, a success, a success not only by her own stand- 
ards but by the standards of anyonesoever who chose 
to sit in judgment on her. 

There was Trafford. She felt she had to extort 
the admission from every one that he was the hand- 
somest, finest, ablest, most promising and most 
delightful man a prominent humorist was ever jilted 
for. She wanted them to understand clearly just all 
that Trafford was and that involved, she speedily 
found in practice, making them believe a very great 
deal that as yet Trafford wasn't. She found it prac- 
tically impossible not to anticipate his election to the 
Royal Society and the probability of a more import- 
ant professorship. She felt that anyhow he was an 
F.R.S. in the sight of God. . . . 

It was almost equally difficult not to indicate a 
larger income than facts justified. 

It was entirely in Marjorie's vein in those early 
days that she would want to win on every score and 



SETTLING DOWN 227 

by every standard of reckoning. If Marjorie had 
been a general she would have counted no victory 
complete if the struggle was not sustained and des- 
perate, and if it left the enemy with a single gun or 
flag, or herself with so much as a man killed or 
wounded. The people she wanted to impress varied 
very widely. She wanted to impress the Carmel girls, 
and the Carmel girls, she knew, with their racial 
trick of acute appraisement, were only to be won by 
the very highest quality all round. They had, she 
knew, two standards of quality, cost and distinction. 
As far as possible, she would give them distinction. 
But whenever she hesitated over something on the 
verge of cheapness the thought of those impending 
judgments tipped the balance. The Carmel girls 
were just two influential representatives of a host. 
She wanted to impress quite a number of other school 
and college friends. There were various shy, plastic- 
spirited, emotional creatures, of course, for the most 
part with no confidence in their own appearance, 
who would be impressed quite adequately enough by 
Trafford's good looks and witty manner and easy 
temper. They might perhaps fall in love with him 
and become slavish to her after the way of their 
kind, and anyhow they would be provided for, but 
there were plenty of others of a harder texture whose 
tests would be more difficult to satisfy. There were 
girls who were the daughters of prominent men, who 
must be made to understand that Trafford was prom- 
inent, girls who were well cennected, who must be 
made to realize the subtle excellence of Trafford's 
blood. As she thought of Constance Graham, for 
example, or Ottiline Winchelsea, she felt the strong- 
est disposition to thicken the by no means well 
authenticated strands that linked Trafford with the 
Traffords of Trafford-over-Lea. She went about the 



228 MARRIAGE 

house dreaming a little apprehensively of these com- 
ing calls, and the pitiless light of criticism they would 
bring to bear, not indeed upon her happiness that 
was assured but upon her success. 

The social side of the position would have to be 
strained to the utmost, Marjorie felt, with Aunt 
Plessington. The thought of Aunt Plessington made 
her peculiarly apprehensive. Aunt Plessington had 
to the fullest extent that contempt for merely artistic 
or scientific people which sits so gracefully upon the 
administrative English. You see people of that sort 
do not get on in the sense that a young lawyer or 
barrister gets on. They do not make steps ; they 
boast and quarrel and are jealous perhaps, but that 
steady patient shove upward seems beyond their in- 
telligence. The energies God manifestly gave them 
for shoving, they dissipate in the creation of weak 
beautiful things and unremunerative theories, or in 
the establishment of views sometimes diametrically 
opposed to the ideas of influential people. And they 
are " queer " socially. They just moon about 
doing this so-called " work " of theirs, and even 
when the judgment of eccentric people forces a kind 
of reputation upon them Heaven knows why? 
they make no public or social use of it. It seemed to 
Aunt Plessington that the artist and the scientific 
man were dealt with very neatly and justly in the 
Parable of the Buried Talent. Moreover their 
private lives were often scandalous, they married for 
love instead of interest, often quite dis advantage- 
ously, and their relationships had all the instability 
that is natural upon such a foundation. And, after 
all, what good were they? She had never met an 
artist or a prominent imaginative writer or scientific 
man that she had not been able to subdue in a minute 



SETTLING DOWN 229 

or so by flat contradiction, and if necessary slightly 
raising her voice. They had little or no influence 
even upon their own public appointments. . . . 

The thought of the invasion of her agreeable little 
back street establishment by this Britannic system of 
judgments filled Marjorie's heart with secret terrors. 
She felt she had to grapple with and overcome Aunt 
Plessington, or be for ever fallen at least, so far as 
that amiable lady's report went, and she knew it went 
pretty far. She wandered about the house trying to 
imagine herself Aunt Plessington. 

Immediately she felt the gravest doubts whether 
the whole thing wasn't too graceful and pretty. A 
rich and rather massive ugliness, of course, would 
have been the thing to fetch Aunt Plessington. Hap- 
pily, it was Aunt Plessington's habit to veil her eyes 
with her voice. She might not see very much. 

The subjugation of Aunt Plessington was difficult, 
but not altogether hopeless, Marjorie felt, provided 
her rejection of Magnet had not been taken as an act 
of personal ingratitude. There was a case on her 
side. She was discovering, for example, that Traf- 
ford had a really very considerable range of acquaint- 
ance among quite distinguished people; big figures 
like Evesham and MacHaldo, for example, were in- 
telligently interested in the trend of his work. She 
felt this gave her a basis for Plessingtonian justifica- 
tions. She could produce those people as one shows 
one's loot. She could imply, " Oh, Love and all that 
nonsense ! Certainly not ! This is what I did it for." 
With skill and care and good luck, and a word here 
and there in edgeways, she believed she might be able 
to represent the whole adventure as the well-calcu- 
lated opening of a campaign on soundly Plessing- 
tonian lines. Her marriage to Trafford, she tried to 
persuade herself, might be presented as something 



230 MARRIAGE 

almost as brilliant and startling as her aunt's swoop 
upon her undistinguished uncle. 

She might pretend that all along she had seen her 
way to things, to coveted dinner-tables and the famil- 
iarity of coveted guests, to bringing people together 
and contriving arrangements, to influence and promi- 
nence, to culminations and intriques impossible in 
the comparatively specialized world of a successful 
humorist and playwright, and so at last to those 
high freedoms of authoritative and if necessary of- 
fensive utterance in a strangulated contralto, and 
from a position of secure eminence, which is the goal 
of all virtuously ambitious Englishwomen of the gov- 
erning classes that is to say, of all virtuously am- 
bitious Englishwomen. . . . 



And while such turbid solicitudes as these were 
flowing in again from the London world to which she 
had returned, and fouling the bright, romantic clear- 
ness of Marjorie's life, Trafford, in his ampler, less 
detailed way was also troubled about their coming 
re-entry into society. He, too, had his old associa- 
tions. 

For example, he was by no means confident of the 
favourable judgments of his mother upon Marjorie's 
circle of school and college friends, whom he gathered 
from Marjorie's talk were destined to play a large 
part in this new phase of his life. She had given him 
very ample particulars of some of them ; and he found 
them interesting rather than richly attractive per- 
sonalities. It is to be noted that while he thought 
always of Marjorie as a beautiful, grown-up woman, 
and his mate and equal, he was still disposed to regard 
her intimate friends as schoolgirls of an advanced and 
aggressive type. . . . 



SETTLING DOWN 231 

Then that large circle of distinguished acquaint- 
ances which Marjorie saw so easily and amply utiliz- 
ed for the subjugation of Aunt Plessington didn't 
present itself quite in that service to Trafford's pri- 
vate thoughts. He hadn't that certitude of command 
over them, nor that confidence in their unhesitating 
approval of all he said and did. Just as Marjorie 
wished him to shine in the heavens over all her people, 
so, in regard to his associates, he was extraordinarily 
anxious that they should realize, and realize from the 
outset without qualification or hesitation, how beau- 
tiful, brave and delightful she was. And you know 
he had already begun to be aware of an evasive feel- 
ing in his mind that at times she did not altogether 
do herself justice he scarcely knew as yet how or 
why. . . . 

She was very young. . . . 

One or two individuals stood out in his imagina- 
tion, representatives and symbols of the rest. Par- 
ticularly there was that old giant, Sir Roderick 
Dover, who had been, until recently, the Professor of 
Physics in the great Oxford laboratories. Dover 
and Trafford had one of those warm friendships 
which spring up at times between a rich-minded man 
whose greatness is assured and a young man of bril- 
liant promise. It was all the more affectionate 
because Dover had been a friend of Trafford's father. 
These two and a group of other careless-minded, able, 
distinguished, and uninfluential men at the Winton 
Club affected the end of the smoking-room near the 
conservatory in the hours after lunch, and shared the 
joys of good talk and! fine jesting about the big fire- 
place there. Under Dover's broad influence they 
talked more ideas and less gossip than is usual with 
English club mem. Twaddle about appointments, 
about reputations, topics from the morning's papers. 



232 MARRIAGE 

London architecture, and the commerce in " good 
stories " took refuge at the other end in the window 
bays or by the further fireplace. Trafford only began 
to realize on his return to London how large a share 
this intermittent perennial conversation had contrib- 
uted to the atmosphere of his existence. Amidst the 
romantic circumstances of his flight with Marjorie he 
had forgotten the part these men played in his life 
and thoughts. Now he was enormously exercised in 
the search for a reconciliation between these, he felt, 
incommensurable factors. 

He was afraid of what might be Sir Roderick's 
unspoken judgment on Marjorie and the house she 
had made though what was there to be afraid of? 
He was still more afraid and this was even more 
remarkable of the clear little judgments hard as 
loose, small diamonds in a bed that he thought Mar- 
jorie might pronounce on Sir Roderick. He had 
never disguised from himself that Sir Roderick was 
fat nobody who came within a hundred yards of 
him could be under any illusion about that and that 
he drank a good deal, ate with a cosmic spaciousness, 
loved a cigar, and talked and laughed with a freedom 
that sometimes drove delicate-minded new members 
into the corners remotest from the historical fire- 
place. Trafford knew himself quite definitely that 
there was a joy in Dover's laugh and voice, a beauty 
in his face (that was somehow mixed up with his 
healthy corpulence), and a breadth, a charity, a 
leonine courage in his mind (that was somehow mixed 
up with his careless freedom of speech) that made 
him an altogether satisfactory person. 

But supposing Marjorie didn't see any of that! 

Still, he was on the verge of bringing Sir Roder- 
ick home when a talk at the club one day postponed 
that introduction of the two extremes of Trafford's 
existence for quite a considerable time. 



SETTLING DOWN 233 

Those were the days of the first enthusiasms of 
the militant suffrage movement, and the occasional 
smashing of a Downing Street window or an assault 
upon a minister kept the question of woman's dis- 
tinctive intelligence and character persistently before 
the public. Godley Buzard, the feminist novelist, 
had been the guest of some member to lunch, and the 
occasion was too provocative for any one about 
Dover's fireplace to avoid the topic. Buzard's pres- 
ence, perhaps, drove Dover into an extreme position 
on the other side; he forgot Trafford's new-wedded 
condition, and handled this great argument, an ar- 
gument which has scarcely progressed since its be- 
ginning in the days of Plato and Aristophanes, with 
the freedoms of an ancient Greek and the explicitness 
of a modern scientific man. 

He opened almost apropos of nothing. " Women," 
he said, " are inferior and you can't get away from 
it." 

" You can deny it," said Buzard. 

" In the face of the facts," said Sir Roderick. 
" To begin with, they're several inches shorter, sev- 
eral pounds lighter ; they've less physical strength in 
footpounds." 

" More endurance," said Buzard. 

" Less sensitiveness merely. All those are de- 
monstrable things amenable to figures and appara- 
tus. Then they stand nervous tensions worse, the 
breaking-point comes sooner. They have weaker in- 
hibitions, and inhibition is the test of a creature's 
position in the mental scale." 

He maintained that in the face of Buzard's ani- 
mated protest. Buzard glanced at their moral 
qualities. " More moral !" cried Dover, " more self- 
restraint ! Not a bit of it ! Their desires and pas- 
sions are weaker even than their controls ; that's alL 



234 MARRIAGE 

Weaken restraints and they show their quality. A 
drunken woman is far worse than a drunken man. 
And as for their biological significance " 

" They are the species," said Buzard, " and we 
are the accidents." 

" They are the stolon and we are the individual- 
ized branches. They are the stem and we are the 
fruits. Surely it's better to exist than just transmit 
existence. And that's a woman's business, though 
we've fooled and petted most of 'em into forgetting 
it. . . ." 

He proceeded to an attack on the intellectual 
quality of women. He scoffed at the woman artist, at 
feminine research, at what he called the joke of femi- 
nine philosophy. Buzard broke in with some sen- 
tences of reply. He alleged the lack of feminine 
opportunity, inferior education. 

" You don't or won't understand me," said Dover. 
" It isn't a matter of education or opportunity, or 
simply that they're of inferior capacity ; it lies deeper 
than that. They don't want to do these things. 
They're different." 

" Precisely," ejaculated Buzard, as if he claimed 
a score. 

" They don't care for these things. They don't 
care for art or philosophy, or literature or anything 
except the things that touch them directly. That's 
their peculiar difference. Hunger they understand, 
and comfort, and personal vanity and desire, furs 
and chocolate and husbands, and the extreme import- 
ance conferred upon them by having babies at in- 
frequent intervals. But philosophy or beauty for its 
own sake, or dreams ! Lord ! no ! The Mahometans 
know they haven't souls, and they say it. We know, 
and keep it up that they have. Haven't all we 
scientific men had 'em in our laboratories working; 



SETTLING DOWN 235 

don't we know the papers they turn out? Every sane 
man of five and forty knows something of the dis- 
illusionment of the feminine dream, but we who've had 
the beautiful creatures under us, weighing rather 
badly, handling rather weakly, invariably missing 
every fine detail and all the implications of our re- 
searches, never flashing, never leaping, never being 
even thoroughly bad, we're specialists in the sub- 
ject. At the present time there are far more edu- 
cated young women than educated young men avail- 
able for research work and who wants them? Oh, 
the young professors who've still got ideals perhaps. 
And in they come, and if they're dull, they just 
voluminously do nothing, and if they're bright, they 
either marry your demonstrator or get him into a 

mess. And the work ? It's nothing to them. No 

woman ever painted for the love of painting, or sang 
for the sounds she made, or philosophized for the 
sake of wisdom as men do " 

Buzard intervened with instances. Dover would 
have none of them. He displayed astonishing and 
distinctive knowledge. " Madame Curie," clamoured 
Buzard, " Madame Curie." 

" There was Curie," said Dover. " No woman 
alone has done such things. I don't say women aren't 
clever," he insisted. " They're too clever. Give them 
a man's track or a man's intention marked and de- 
fined, they'll ape him to the life r 

Buzard renewed his protests, talking at the same 
time as Dover, and was understood to say that women 
had to care for something greater than art or phil- 
osophy. They were custodians of life, the future 
of the race 

" And that's my. crowning disappointment," cried 
Dover. " If there was one thing in which you might 
think women would show a sense of some divine pur- 



236 MARRIAGE 

pose in life, it is in the matter of children and they 
show about as much care in that matter, oh ! as rab- 
bits. Yes, rabbits ! I stick to it. Look at the things 
a nice girl will marry; look at the men's children 
she'll consent to bring into the world. Cheerfully! 
Proudly ! For the sake of the home and the clothes. 
Nasty little beasts they'll breed without turning a 
hair. All about us we see girls and women marrying 
ugly men, dull and stupid men, ill-tempered dyspep- 
tic wrecks, sickly young fools, human rats rats!" 

" No, no !" cried Trafford to Dover. 

Buzard's voice clamoured that all would be differ- 
ent when women had the vote. 

" If ever we get a decent care for Eugenics, it will 
come from men," said a white-faced little man on the 
sofa beside Trafford, in the confidential tone of one 
who tells a secret. 

" Doing it cheerfully !" insisted Dover. ' 

Trafford in mid-protest was suddenly stricken 
into silence by a memory. It was as if the past had 
thrown a stone at the back of his head and hit it 
smartly. He nipped his sentence in the bud. He left 
the case for women to Buzard. . . . 

He revived that memory again on his way home. 
It had been in his mind overlaid by a multitude of 
newer, fresher things, but now he took it out and 
looked at it. It was queer, it was really very queer, 
to think that once upon a time, not so very long ago, 
Marjorie had been prepared to marry Magnet. Of 
course she had hated it, but still . . . 

There is much to be discovered about life, even by 
a brilliant and rising young Professor of Physics. . . . 

Presently Dover, fingering the little glass of yel- 
low chartreuse he had hitherto forgotten in the heat 
of controversy, took a more personal turn. 



SETTLING DOWN 237 

" Don't we know," he said, and made the limpid 
amber vanish in his pause. " Don't we know we've 
got to manage and control 'em just as we've got to 
keep 'em and stand the racket of their misbehaviour? 
Don't our instincts tell us? Doesn't something tell 
us all that if we let a woman loose with our honour 
and trust, some other man will get hold of her? 
We've tried it long enough now, this theory that a 
woman's a partner and an equal ; we've tried it long 
enough to see some of the results, and does it work? 
Does it? A woman's a prize, a possession, a respon- 
sibility, something to take care of and be careful 
about. . . . You chaps, if you'll forgive me, you 
advanced chaps, seem to want to have the women take 
care of you. You seem always to want to force 
decisions on them, make them answerable for things 
that you ought to decide and answer for. ... If 
one could, if one could ! If ! . . . But they're not 
helps that's a dream they're distractions, grati- 
fications, anxieties, dangers, undertakings. . . ." 

Buzard got in his one effective blow at this point. 
" That's why you've never married, Sir Roderick ?" 
he threw out. 

The big man was checked for a moment. Trafford 
wondered what memory lit that instant's pause. 
" I've had my science," said Dover. 

.:...'. 

Mrs. Pope was of course among the first to visit 
the new home so soon as it was open to inspection. 
She arrived, looking very bright and neat in a new 
bonnet and some new black furs that suited her, bear- 
ing up bravely but obviously in a state of dispersed 
and miscellaneous emotion. 



238 MARRIAGE 

In many ways Marj one's marriage had been a 
great relief to her mother. Particularly it had been 
a financial relief. Marjorie had been the most ex- 
pensive child of her family, and her cessation had led 
to increments both of Mrs. Pope's and Daphne's all 
too restricted allowances. Mrs. Pope had been able 
therefore to relapse from the orthodox Anglicanism 
into which poverty had driven her, and indulge for 
an hour weekly in the consolations of Higher 
Thought. These exercises in emancipated religiosity 
occurred at the house of Mr. Silas Root, and were 
greatly valued by a large circle of clients. Essen- 
tially they were orgies of vacuity, and they cost six 
guineas for seven hours. They did her no end of 
good. All through the precious weekly hour she sat 
with him in a silent twilight, very, very still and 
feeling oh ! " higher " than anything, and when she 
came out she wore an inane smile on her face and was 
prepared not to worry, to lie with facility, and to 
take the easiest way in every eventuality in an en- 
tirely satisfactory and exalted manner. Moreover 
he was " treating " her investments. Acting upon 
his advice, and doing the whole thing quietly with the 
idea of preparing a pleasant surprise for her hus- 
band, she had sold out of certain Home Railway 
debentures and invested in a company for working the 
auriferous waste which is so abundant in the drainage 
of Philadelphia, a company whose shareholders were 
chiefly higher thought disciples and whose profits 
therefore would inevitably be greatly enhanced by 
their concerted mental action. It was to the pros- 
pective profits in this that she owed the new black 
furs she was wearing. 

The furs and the bonnet and the previous day's 
treatment she had had, all helped to brace her up on 
Marjorie's doorstep for a complex and difficult situ- 



SETTLING DOWN 239 

ation, and to carry her through the first tensions of 
her call. She was so much to pieces as it was that 
she could not help feeling how much more to pieces 
she might have been but for the grace of Silas Root. 
She knew she ought to have very strong feelings 
about Trafford, though it was not really clear to her 
what feelings she ought to have. On the whole she 
was inclined to believe she was experiencing moral 
disapproval mixed up with a pathetic and rather 
hopeless appeal for the welfare of the tender life that 
had entrusted itself so recklessly to these brutal and 
discreditable hands, though indeed if she had really 
dared to look inside her mind her chief discovery 
would have been a keenly jealous appreciation of 
Trafford's good looks and generous temper, and a 
feeling of injustice as between her own lot and Mar- 
jorie's. However, going on her assumed basis she 
managed to be very pale, concise and tight-lipped at 
any mention of her son-in-law, and to put a fervour 
of helpless devotion into her embraces of her daugh- 
ter. She surveyed the house with a pained constrain- 
ed expression, as though she tried in vain to conceal 
from herself that it was all slightly improper, and 
even such objects as the Bokhara hangings failed to 
extort more than an insincere, " Oh, very nice, dear 
very nice." 

In the bedroom, she spoke about Mr. Pope. " He 
was dreadfully upset," she said. " His first thought 
was to come after you both with a pistol. If if he 
hadn't married you " 

" But dear Mummy, of course we meant to marry ! 
We married right away." 

" Yes, dear, of course. But if he hadn't " 

She paused, and Marjorie, with a momentary 
flush of indignation in her cheeks, did not urge her to 
conclude her explanation. 



240 MARRIAGE 

" He's wounded," said Mrs. Pope. " Some day 
perhaps he'll come round you were always his fa- 
vourite daughter." 

" I know," said Marjorie concisely, with a faint 
flavour of cynicism in her voice. 

" I'm afraid dear, at present he will do nothing 
for you." 

" I don't think Rag would like him to," said Mar- 
jorie with an unreal serenity; "ever." 

" For a time I'm afraid he'll refuse to see you. 
He just wants to forget . Everything." 

" Poor old Dad ! I wish he wouldn't put himself 
out like this. Still, I won't bother him, Mummy, if 
you mean that." 

Then suddenly into Mrs. Pope's unsystematic, 
unstable mind, started perhaps by the ring in her 
daughter's voice, there came a wave of affectionate 
feeling. That she had somehow to be hostile and 
unsympathetic to Marjorie, that she had to pretend 
that Trafford was wicked and disgusting, and not be 
happy in the jolly hope and happiness of this bright 
little house, cut her with a keen swift pain. She didn't 
know clearly why she was taking this coldly hostile 
attitude, or why she went on doing so, but the sense 
of that necessity hurt her none the less. She put out 
her hands upon her daughter's shoulders and whim- 
pered : " Oh my dear ! I do wish things weren't so 
difficult so very difficult." 

The whimper changed by some inner force of its 
own to honest sobs and tears. 

Marjorie passed through a flash of amazement 
to a sudden understanding of her mother's case. 
" Poor dear Mummy," she said. " Oh ! poor dear 
Mummy. It's a shame of us !" 

She put her arms about her mother and held her- 
for awhile. 



SETTLING DOWN 241 

" It is ,a .shame," said her mother in a muffled 
voice, trying to keep hold of this elusive thing that 
had somehow both wounded her and won her daugh- 
ter back. But her poor grasp slipped again. " I 
knew you'd come to see it," she said, dabbing with her 
handkerchief at her eyes. " I knew you would." And 
then with the habitual loyalty of years resuming its 
sway : " He's always been so good to you." . . . 

But Mrs, Pope had something more definite to 
say to Marjorie, and came to it at last with a tactful 
offhandedness. Marjorie communicated it to Traf- 
ford about an hour later on his return from the 
laboratory. " I say," she said, " old Daffy's engaged 
to Magnet!" 

She paused, and added with just the faintest 
trace of resentment in her voice : " She can have him, 
as far as I'm concerned." 

" He didn't wait long," said Trafford tactlessly. 

" No," said Marjorie; " he didn't wait long. * . . 
; Of course she got him on the rebound." . . . 



6 

Mrs. Pope was only a day or so ahead of a cloud 
of callers. The Carmel girls followed close upon her, 
tall figures of black fur, with costly-looking muffs 
and a rich ; glitter at neck and wrist. Marjorie dis- 
played her Jaouse, talking fluently about other things, 
and watching for effects. The Carmel girls ran their 
swift dark eyes over her appointments, glanced 
quickly jfx0m side to side of her rooms, saw only too 

certainly tlaat the house was narrow and small . 

JBut did they see that it was clever? They saw at any 
rate that .she meant it to be clever, and with true 
^Oriental politeness said as much urgently and ex- 



242 MARRIAGE 

travagantly. Then there were the Rambord girls 
and their mother, an unobservant lot who chattered 
about the ice at Prince's ; then Constance Graham 
came with a thoroughbred but very dirty aunt, and 
then Ottiline Winchelsea with an America minor poet, 
who wanted a view of mountains from the windows at 
the back, and said the bathroom ought to be done in 
pink. Then Lady Solomonson came; an extremely 
expensive-looking fair lady with an affectation of 
cynicism, a keen intelligence, acutely apt conversa- 
tion, and a queer effect of thinking of something else 
all the time she was talking. She missed nothing. . . . 

Hardly anybody failed to appreciate the charm 
and decision of Marjorie's use of those Bokhara 
embroideries. 

They would have been cheap at double the price. 

7 

And then our two young people went out to their 
first dinner-parties together. They began with Traf- 
ford's rich friend Solomonson, who had played so 
large and so passive a part in their first meeting. He 
had behaved with a sort of magnanimous triumph 
over the marriage. He made it almost his personal 
affair, as though he had brought it about. " I knew 
there was a girl in it," he insisted, " and you told me 
there wasn't. O-a-ah! And you kept me in that 
smell of disinfectant and things what a chap that 

doctor was for spilling stuff ! for six blessed days ! 


Marjorie achieved a dress at once simple and 
good with great facility by not asking the price until 
it was all over. (There is no half-success with din- 
ner-dresses, either the thing is a success and inestim- 
able, or not worth having at any price at all.) It 



SETTLING DOWN 243 

was blue with a thread of gold, and she had a neck- 
lace of blueish moonstones, gold-set, and her hair 
ceased to be copper and became golden, and her eyes 
unfathomable blue. She was radiant with health and 
happiness, no one else there had her clear freshness, 
and her manner was as restrained and dignified 
and ready as a proud young wife's can be. Everyone 
seemed to like her and respect her and be interested 
in her, and Trafford kissed her flushed cheek in the 
hansom as they came home again and crowned her 
happiness. It had been quite a large party, and 
really much more splendid and brilliant than any- 
thing she had ever seen before. There had been one 
old gentleman with a coloured button and another 
with a ribbon; there had been a countess with his- 
torical pearls, and half-a-dozen other people one 
might fairly call distinguished. The house was tre- 
mendous in its way, spacious, rich, glowing with 
lights, abounding in vistas and fine remote back- 
grounds. In the midst of it all she had a sudden 
thrill at the memory that less than a year ago she 
had been ignominiously dismissed from the dinner- 
table by her father for a hiccup. . . . 

A few days after Aunt Pies sin gton suddenly asked 
the Traffords to one of her less important but still 
interesting gatherings ; not one of those that swayed 
the world perhaps, but one which Marjorie was given 
to understand achieved important subordinate wag- 
ging. Aunt Plessington had not called, she explained 
in her note, because of the urgent demands the Move- 
ment made upon her time ; it was her wonderful hard- 
breathing way never to call on anyone, and it added 
tremendously to her reputation; none the less it ap- 
peared though here the scrawl became illegible she 
meant to shore and steer her dear niece upward at a 
tremendous pace. They were even asked to come a 



244 MARRIAGE 

little early so that she might make Trafford's ac- 
quaintance. 

The dress was duly admired, and then Aunt Ples- 
sington assuming the hearth-rug and forgetting the 
little matter of their career explained quite Na- 
poleonic and wonderful things she was going to do 
with her Movement, fresh principles, fresh applica- 
tions, a big committee of all the " names " they were 
easy to get if you didn't bother them to do things 
a new and more attractive title, " Payment in Kind " 
was to give way to " Reality of Reward," and she 
herself was going to have her hair bleached bright 
white (which would set off her eyes and colour and 
the general geniality of appearance due to her pro- 
jecting teeth), and so greatly increase her " platform 
efficiency." Hubert, she said, was toiling away hard 
at the detail of these new endeavours. He would be 
down in a few minutes' time. Marjorie, she said, 
ought to speak at their meetings. It would help both 
the Traffords to get on if Marjorie cut a dash at the 
outset, and there was no such dash to be cut as speak- 
ing at Aunt Plessington's meetings. It was catching 
on; all next season it was sure to be the thing. So 
many promising girls allowed themselves to be sub- 
merged altogether in marriage for a time, and when 
they emerged everyone had forgotten the promise of 
their debut. She had an air of rescuing Marjorie 
from an impending fate by disabusing Trafford from 
injurious prepossessions. . . . 

Presently the guests began to drop in, a vegeta- 
rian health specialist, a rising young woman factory 
inspector, a phrenologist who was being induced to 
put great talents to better uses under Aunt Plessing- 
ton's influence, his dumb, obscure, but inevitable wife, 
a colonial bishop, a baroness with a taste rather than 
a capacity for intellectual society, a wealthy jam 



SETTLING DOWN 245 

and pickle manufacturer and his wife, who had sub- 
scribed largely to the funds of the Movement and 
wanted to meet the lady of title, and the editor of 
the Movement's organ, Upward and On, a young 
gentleman of abundant hair and cadaverous silences, 
whom Aunt Plessington patted on the shoulder and 
spoke of as " one of our discoveries." And then 
Uncle Hubert came down, looking ruffled and over- 
worked, with his ready-made dress-tie he was one 
of those men who can never master the art of tying 
a bow very much askew. The conversation turned 
chiefly on the Movement ; if it strayed Aunt Plessing- 
ton reached out her voice after it and brought it 
back in a masterful manner. 

Through soup and fish Marjorie occupied herself 
with the inflexible rigour of the young editor, who had 
brought her down. When she could give her atten- 
tion to^the general conversation she discovered her 
husband a little flushed and tackling her aunt with 
an expression of quiet determination. The phrenolo- 
gist and the vegetarian health specialist were regard- 
ing him with amazement, the jam and pickle manu- 
facturer's wife was evidently deeply shocked. He 
was refusing to believe in the value of the Movement, 
and Aunt Plessington was manifestly losing her 
temper. 

" I don't see, Mrs. Plessington," he was saying, 
" that all this amounts to more than a kind of Glor- 
ious District Visiting. That is how I see it. You 
want to attack people in their homes before they 
cry out to you. You want to compel them by this 
Payment in Kind 1 of yours to do what you want them 
to do instead of trying to make them want to do it. 
Now, I think your business is to make them want to 
do it. You may perhaps increase the amount of 
milk in babies, and the amount of whitewash in cot- 



246 MARRIAGE 

tages and slums by your methods I don't dispute 
the promise of your statistics but you're going to 
do it at a cost of human self-respect that's out of all 
proportion " 

Uncle Hubert's voice, with that thick utterance 
that always suggested a mouthful of plums, came 
booming down the table. " All these arguments," he 
said, " have been answered long ago." 

" No doubt," said Trafford with a faint asperity. 
" But tell me the answers." 

" It's ridiculous," said Aunt Plessington, " to talk 
of the self-respect of the kind of people oh! the 
very dregs !" 

" It's just because the plant is delicate that you've 
got to handle it carefully," said Trafford. 

" Here's Miss Gant," said Aunt Plessington, 
" she knows the strata we are discussing. She'll tell 
you they have positively no self-respect none at 
all." 

" My people," said Miss Gant, as if in conclusive 
testimony, " actually conspire with their employers 
to defeat me." 

" I don't see the absence of self-respect in that," 
said Trafford. 

" But all their interests " 

" I'm thinking of their pride." . . . 

The discussion lasted to the end of dinner and 
made no headway. As soon as the ladies were in the 
drawing-room, Aunt Plessington, a little flushed from 
the conflict, turned on Marjorie and said, " I like 
your husband. He's wrong-headed, but he's young, 
and he's certainly spirited. He ought to get on if 
he wants to. Does he do nothing but his researches ?" 

" He lectures in the spring term," said Marjorie. 

" Ah !" said Aunt Plessington with a triumphant 
note, " you must alter all that. You must interest 



SETTLING DOWN 247 

him in wider things. You must bring him out of his 
shell, and let him see what it is to deal with Affairs. 
Then he wouldn't talk such nonsense about our 
Work." 

Marjory was at a momentary loss for a reply, 
and in the instant's respite Aunt Plessington turned 
to the jam and pickle lady and asked in a bright, 
encouraging note : " Well ! And how's the Village 
Club getting on?" ... 

She had another lunge at Trafford as he took 
his leave. " You must come again soon," she said. 
" I love a good wrangle, and Hubert and I never 
want to talk about our Movement to any one but un- 
believers. You don't know the beginnings of it yet. 
Only I warn you they have a way of getting con- 
verted. I warn you." . . . 

On this occasion there was no kissing in the cab. 
Trafford was exasperated. 

" Of all the intolerable women !" he said, and was 
silent for a time. 

" The astounding part of it is," he burst out, 
" that this sort of thing, this Movement and all the 
rest of it, does really give the quality of English 
public affairs. It's like a sample dredged. The 
the cheapness of it! Raised voices, rash assertions, 
sham investigations, meetings and committees and 
meetings, that's the stuff of it, and politicians really 
have to attend to it, and silly, ineffective, irritating 
bills really get drafted and messed about with and 
passed on the strength of it. Public affairs are still 
in the Dark Ages. Nobody now would think of 
getting together a scratch committee of rich old 
women and miscellaneous conspicuous people to de- 
sign an electric tram, and jabbering and jabbering 
and jabbering, and if any one objects " a note of 
personal bitterness came into his voice " jabbering 



248 MARRIAGE 

faster ; but nobody thinks it ridiculous to attempt the 
organization of poor people's affairs in that sort of 
way. This project of the supersession of Wages by 
Payment in Kind oh! it's childish. If it wasn't it 
would be outrageous and indecent. Your uncle and 
aunt haven't thought for a moment of any single one 
of the necessary consequences of these things they 
say their confounded Movement aims at, effects upon 
the race, upon public spirit, upon people's habits and 
motives. They've just a queer craving to feel pow- 
erful and influential, which they think they can best 
satisfy by upsetting the lives of no end of harmless 
poor people the only people they dare upset and 
that's about as far as they go. . . . Your aunt's 
detestable, Marjorie." 

Marjorie had never seen him so deeply affected by 
anything but herself. It seemed to her he was need- 
lessly disturbed by a trivial matter. He sulked for 
a space, and then broke out again. 

" That confounded woman talks of my physical 
science," he said, " as if research were an amiable 
weakness, like collecting postage stamps. And it's 
changed human conditions more in the last ten years 
than all the parliamentary wire-pullers and legisla- 
tors and administrative experts have done in two cen- 
turies. And for all that, there's more clerks in White- 
hall than professors of physics in the whole of Eng- 
land." . . . 

" I suppose it's the way that sort of thing gets 
done," said Marjorie, after an interval. 

" That sort of thing doesn't get done," snapped 
Trafford. " All these people burble about with their 
movements and jobs, and lectures and stuff and 
things happen. Like some one getting squashed to 
death in a crowd. Nobody did it, but anybody in 



SETTLING DOWN 249 

the muddle can claim to have done it if only they've 
got the cheek of your Aunt Plessington." 

He seemed to have finished. 

" Done!" he suddenly broke out again. " Why ! 
people like your Aunt Plessington don't even know 
where the handle is. If they ventured to look for it, 
they'd give the whole show away ! Done, indeed !" 

" Here we are!" said Marjorie, a little relieved to 
find the hansom turning out of King's Road into 
their own side street. . . . 

And then Marjorie wore the blue dress with great 
success at the Carmels'. The girls came and looked 
at it and admired it it was no mere politeness. 
They admitted there was style about it, a quality 
there was no explaining. " You're wonderful, 
Madge!" cried the younger Carmel girl. 

The Carmel boy, seizing the opportunity of a 
momentary seclusion in a corner, ended a short but 
rather portentous silence with " I say, you do look 
ripping," in a voice that implied the keenest regret 
for the slacknesses of a summer that was now infin- 
itely remote to Marjorie. It was ridiculous that the 
Carmel boy should have such emotions he was six 
years younger than Trafford and only a year older 
than Marjorie, and yet she was pleased by his 
manifest wound. . . . 

There was only one little thing at the back of 
her mind that alloyed her sense of happy and com- 
plete living that night, and that was the ghost of an 
addition sum. At home, in her pretty bureau, a little 
gathering pile of bills, as yet unpaid, and an empty 
cheque-book with appealing counterfoils, awaited her 
attention. 

Marjorie had still to master the fact that all the 
fine braveries and interests and delights of life that 



250 MARRIAGE 

offer themselves so amply to the favoured children 
of civilization, trail and, since the fall of man at 
any rate, have trailed after them something some- 
thing, the justification of morality, the despair of 
all easy, happy souls, the unavoidable drop of bitter- 
ness in the cup of pleasure the Reckoning. 



CHAPTER THE SECOND 

THE CHILD OF THE AGES 
1 

WHEN the intellectual history of this time comes to 
be written, nothing I think will stand out more 
strikingly than the empty gulf in quality between the 
superb and richly fruitful scientific investigations 
that are going on and the general thought of other 
educated sections of the community. I do not mean 
that the scientific men are as a whole a class of super- 
men, dealing with and thinking about everything in 
a way altogether better than the common run of 
humanity, but that in their own field, they think and 
work with an intensity, an integrity, a breadth, bold- 
ness, patience, thoroughness and faithfulness that 
(excepting only a few artists) puts their work out 
of all comparison with any other human activity. 
Often the field in which the work is done is very 
narrow, and almost universally the underlying phil- 
osophy is felt rather than apprehended. A scientific 
man may be large and deep-minded, deliberate and 
personally detached in his work, and hasty, common- 
place and superficial in every other relation of life. 
Nevertheless it is true that in these particular direc- 
tions the human mind has achieved a new and higher 
quality of attitude and gesture, a veracity, self- 
detachment and self-abnegating vigour of criticism 
that tend to spread out and must ultimately spread 
out to every other human affair. In these uncon- 
troversial issues at least mankind has learnt the rich 
rewards that ensue from patience and infinite pains. 

251 



252 MARRIAGE 

The peculiar circumstances of Trafford's birth 
and upbringing had accentuated his natural disposi- 
tion toward this new thoroughness of intellectual 
treatment which has always distinguished the great 
artist, and which to-day is also the essential quality 
of the scientific method. He had lived apart from 
any urgency to produce and compete in the common 
business of the world; his natural curiosities, fed and 
encouraged by his natural gifts, had grown into a 
steady passion for clarity, and knowledge. But with 
him there was no specialization. He brought out 
from his laboratory into the everyday affairs of the 
world the same sceptical restraint of judgment which 
is the touchstone of scientific truth. This made him 
a tepid and indeed rather a scornful spectator of 
political and social life. Party formulae, interna- 
tional rivalries, social customs, and very much of the 
ordinary law of our state impressed him as a kind of 
fungoid growth out of a fundamental intellectual 
muddle. It all maintained itself hazardously, chang- 
ing and adapting itself unintelligently to unseen con- 
ditions. He saw no ultimate truth in this seething 
welter of human efforts, no tragedy as yet in its 
defeats, no value in its victories. It had to go on, he 
believed, until the spreading certitudes of the scien- 
tific method pierced its unsubstantial thickets, burst 
its delusive films, drained away its folly. Aunt Ples- 
sington's talk of order and progress and the influence 
of her Movement impressed his mind very much as the 
cackle of some larger kind of hen which cackles 
because it must. Only Aunt Plessington being hu- 
man simply imagined the egg. She laid on the 
plane of the ideal. When the great nonsensical issues 
between liberal and conservative, between socialist 
and individualist, between " Anglo-Saxon " and 
'* Teuton," between the " white race " and the " yel- 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 253 

low race " arose in Trafford's company, he would if 
he felt cheerful take one side or the other as chance 
or his amusement with his interlocutors determined, 
and jest and gibe at the opponent's inconsistencies, 
and if on the other hand he chanced to be irritable he 
would lose his temper at this " chewing of mesembry- 
anthemum " and sulk into silence. " Chewing mesem- 
bryanthemum " was one of Trafford's favourite 
images, no doubt the reader knows that abundant 
fleshy Mediterranean weed and the weakly unpleasant 
wateriness of its substance. He went back to his 
laboratory and his proper work after such discus- 
sions with a feeling of escape, as if he shut a door 
upon a dirty and undisciplined market-place crowded 
with mental defectives. Yet even before he met and 
married Marjorie, there was a queer little undertow 
of thought in his mind which insisted that this busi- 
ness could not end with door-slamming, that he didn't 
altogether leave the social confusion outside his 
panels when he stood alone before his apparatus, and 
that sooner or later that babble of voices would force 
his defences and overcome his disdain. 

His particular work upon the intimate constitu- 
tion of matter had broadened very rapidly in his 
hands. The drift of his work had been to identify 
all colloids as liquid solutions of variable degrees of 
viscosity, and to treat crystalline bodies as the only 
solids. He had dealt with oscillating processes in 
colloid bodies with especial reference to living matter. 
He had passed from a study of the melting and tough- 
ening of glass to the molecular structure of a num- 
ber of elastic bodies, and so, by a characteristic leap 
into botanical physiology, to the states of resinous 
and gummy substances at the moment of secretion. 
He worked at first upon a false start, and then re- 
sumed to discover a growing illumination. He found 



254 MARRIAGE 

himself in the presence of phenomena that seemed to 
him to lie near the still undiscovered threshold to the 
secret processes of living protoplasm. He was, as it 
were, breaking into biology by way of molecular 
physics. He spent many long nights of deep excite- 
ment, calculating and arranging the development of 
these seductive intimations. It was this work which 
his marriage had interrupted, and to which he was 
now returning. 

He was surprised to find how difficult it was to 
take it up again. He had been only two months 
away from it, and yet already it had not a little of 
the feeling of a relic taken from a drawer. Some- 
thing had faded. It was at first as if a film had 
come over his eyes, so that he could no longer see 
these things clearly and subtly and closely. His 
senses, his emotions, had been living in a stirring and 
vivid illumination. Now in this cool quietude bright 
clouds of coloured memory-stuff swam distractingly 
before his eyes. Phantom kisses on his lips, the mem- 
ory of touches and the echoing vibrations of an 
adorable voice, the thought of a gay delightful fire- 
side and the fresh recollection of a companion 
intensely felt beside him, effaced the delicate pro- 
fundities of this dim place. Durgan hovered about 
him, helpful and a mute reproach. Trafford had to 
force his attention daily for the better part of two 
weeks before he had fully recovered the fine enchant- 
ing interest of that suspended work. 



At last one day he had the happiness of posses- 
sion again. He had exactly the sensation one gets 
when some hitherto intractable piece of a machine 
one is putting together, clicks neatly and beyond all 
hoping, into its place. He found himself working in 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 255 

the old style, with the hours slipping by disregarded. 
He sent out Durgan to get him tobacco and tea and 
smoked-salmon sandwiches, and he stayed in the la- 
boratory all night. He went home about half-past 
five, and found a white-faced, red-eyed Marjorie still 
dressed, wrapped in a travelling-rug, and crumpled 
and asleep in his study arm-chair beside the grey 
ashes of an extinct fire. 

In the instant before she awoke he could see what 
a fragile and pitiful being a healthy and happy 
young wife can appear. Her pose revealed an un- 
suspected slender weakness of body, her face some- 
thing infantile and wistful he had still to reckon 
with. She awoke with a start and stared at him for 
a moment, and at the room about her. " Oh, where 
have you been?" she asked almost querulously. 
"Where have you been?" 

" But my dear !" he said, as one might speak to 
a child, " why aren't you in bed? It's just dawn." 

"Oh," she said, "I waited and I waited. It 
seemed you must come. I read a book. And then I 
fell asleep." And then with a sob of feeble self-pity, 
*' And here I am !" She rubbed the back of her hand 
into one eye and shivered. " I'm cold," she said, 
*' and I want some tea." 

" Let's make some," said Trafford. 

" It's been horrible waiting," said Marjorie with- 
out moving ; " horrible ! Where have you been ?" 

" I've been working. I got excited by my work. 
I've been at the laboratory. I've had the best spell 
of work I've ever had since our marriage." 

" But I have been up all night !" she cried with 
her face and voice softening to tears. " How could 
you? How could you?" 

He was surprised by her weeping. He was still 
more surprised by the self-abandonment that allowed 



256 MARRIAGE 

her to continue. " I've been working," he repeated., 
and then looked about with a man's helplessness for 
the tea apparatus. One must have hot water and a 
teapot and a kettle; he would find those in the 
kitchen. He strolled thoughtfully out of the room, 
thinking out the further details of tea-making all 
mixed up with amazement at Marjorie, while she sat 
wiping her eyes with a crumpled pocket-handker- 
chief. Presently she followed him down with the rug 
about her like a shawl, and stood watching him as he 
lit a fire of wood and paper among the ashes in the 
kitchen fireplace. " It's been dreadful," she said, not 
offering to help. 

" You see," he said, on his knees, " I'd really got 
hold of my work at last." 

" But you should have sent " 

" I was thinking of my work. I clean forgot." 

"Forgot?" 

" Absolutely." 

" Forgot me!" 

" Of course," said Trafford, with a slightly puz- 
zled air, " you don't see it as I do." 

The kettle engaged him for a time. Then he 
threw out a suggestion. " We'll have to have a tele- 
phone." 

" I couldn't imagine where you were. I thought 
of all sorts of things. I almost came round but I 
was so horribly afraid I mightn't find you." 

He renewed his suggestion of a telephone. 

" So that if I really want you " said Mar- 
jorie. " Or if I just want to feel you're there." 

" Yes," said Trafford slowly, jabbing a piece of 
firewood into the glow; but it was chiefly present in 
his mind that much of that elaborate experimenting 
of his wasn't at all a thing to be cut athwart by the 
exasperating gusts of a telephone bell clamouring 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 257 

for attention. Hitherto the laboratory telephone 
had been in the habit of disconnecting itself early in 
the afternoon. 

And yet after all it was this instrument, the same 
twisted wire and little quivering tympanum, that had 
brought back Marjorie into his life. 

3 

And now Trafford fell into a great perplexity of 
mind. His banker had called his attention to the fact 
that his account was overdrawn to the extent of 
three hundred and thirteen pounds, and he had been 
under that vague sort of impression one always has 
about one's current account that he was a hundred 
and fifty or so to the good. His first impression was 
that those hitherto infallible beings, those unseen 
gnomes of the pass-book whose lucid figures, neat 
tickings, and unrelenting additions constituted banks 
to his imagination, must have made a mistake; his 
second that some one had tampered with a cheque. 
His third thought pointed to Marjorie and the easy 
circumstances of his home. For a fortnight now 
she had been obviously ailing, oddly irritable ; he did 
not understand the change in her, but it sufficed to 
prevent his taking the thing to her at once and going 
into it with her as he would have done earlier. 
Instead he had sent for his pass-book, and in the 
presence of its neat columns realized for the first 
time the meaning of Marjorie's " three hundred 
pounds." Including half-a-dozen cheques to Ox- 
bridge tradesmen for her old debts, she had spent, 
he discovered, nearly seven hundred and fifty. 

He sat before the little bundle of crumpled strips 
of pink and white, perforated, purple stamped and 
effaced, in a state of extreme astonishment. It was no 



258 MARRIAGE 

small factor in his amazement to note how very care- 
lessly some of those cheques of Marjorie's had been 
written. Several she had not even crossed. The effect 
of it all was that she'd just spent his money freely 
with an utter disregard of the consequences. 

Up to that moment it had never occurred to 
Trafford that anybody one really cared for, could be 
anything but punctilious about money. Now here, 
with an arithmetical exactitude of demonstration, he 
perceived that Marjorie wasn't. 

It was so tremendous a discovery for him, so dis- 
concerting and startling, that he didn't for two days 
say a word to her about it. He couldn't think of a 
word to say. He felt that even to put these facts 
before her amounted to an accusation of disloyalty 
and selfishness that he hadn't the courage to make. 
His work stopped altogether. He struggled hourly 

with that accusation. Did she realize ? There 

seemed no escape from his dilemma ; either she didn't 
care or she didn't understand ! 

His thoughts went back to the lake of Orta, when 
he had put all his money at her disposal. She had 
been surprised, and now he perceived she had also 
been a little frightened. The chief excuse he could 
find for her was that she was inexperienced abso- 
lutely inexperienced. 

Even now, of course, she was drawing fresh 
cheques. . . . 

He would have to pull himself together, and go 
into the whole thing for all its infinite disagreeable- 
ness with her. . . . 

But it was Marjorie who broached the subject. 

He had found work at the laboratory unsatis- 
factory, and after lunching at his club he had come 
home and gone to his study in order to think out the 
discussion he contemplated with her. She came in to 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 259 

him as he sat at his desk. " Busy?" she said. " Not 
very," he answered, and she came up to him, kissed 
his head, and stood beside him with her hand on his 
shoulder. 

" Pass-book?" she asked. 

He nodded. 

*' I've been overrunning." 

" No end." 

The matter was opened. .What would she say? 

She bent to his ear and whispered. " I'm going 
to overrun some more." 

His voice was re'sentful. " You can't," he said 
compactly without looking at her. " You've spent 
enough." 

" There's things." 

"What things?" 

Her answer took some time in coming. " We'll 
have to give a wedding present to Daffy. ... I shall 
want some more furniture." 

Well, he had to go into it now. " I don't think 
you can have it," he said, and then as she remained 
silent, " Marjorie, do you know how much money 
I've got?" 

" Six thousand." 

" I had. But we've spent nearly a thousand 
pounds. Yes one thousand pounds over and 
above income. We meant to spend four hundred. 
And now, we've got hardly anything over five." 

" Five thousand," said Marjorie. 

" Five thousand." 

" And there's your salary." 

" Yes, but at this pace " 

" Dear," said Marjorie, and her hands came 
about his neck, " dear there's sometl ing " 

She broke off. An unfamiliar quality in her voice 



260 MARRIAGE 

struck into him. He turned his head to see her face, 
rose to his feet staring at her. 

This remarkable young woman had become soft 
and wonderful as April hills across which clouds are 
sweeping. Her face was as if he had never seen it 
before ; her eyes bright with tears. 

" Oh ! don't let's spoil things by thinking of 

money," she said. " I've got something " Her 

voice fell to a whisper. " Don't let's spoil things by 
thinking of money. . . . It's too good, dear, to be 
true. It's too good to be true. It makes every- 
thing perfect. . . . We'll have to furnish that 
little room. I didn't dare to hope it somehow. 
I've been so excited and afraid. But we've got to 
furnish that little room there that empty little 
room upstairs, dear, that we left over. . . . Oh 
my dear! my dear!" 

4 

The world of Trafford and Marjorie was filled 
and transfigured by the advent of their child. 

For two days of abundant silences he had been 
preparing a statement of his case for her, he had been 
full of the danger to his research and all the waste of 
his life that her extravagance threatened. He wanted 
to tell her just all that his science meant to him, 
explain how his income and life had all been arranged 
to leave him, mind and time and energy, free for these 
commanding investigations. His life was to him the 
service of knowledge or futility. He had perceived 
that she did not understand this in him ; that for her, 
life was a blaze of eagerly sought experiences and 
gratifications. So far he had thought out things 
and had them ready for her. But now all this im- 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 261 

pending discussion vanished out of his world. Their 
love was to be crowned by the miracle of parentage. 
This fact flooded his outlook and submerged every 
other consideration. 

This manifest probability came to him as if it were 
an unforeseen marvel. It was as if he had never 
thought of such a thing before, as though a fact 
entirely novel in the order of the universe had come 
into existence. Marjorie became again magical and 
wonderful for him, but in a manner new and strange, 
she was grave, solemn, significant. He was filled with 
a passionate solicitude for her welfare, and a pas- 
sionate desire to serve her. It seemed impossible to 
him that only a day or so ago he should have been 
accusing her in his heart of disloyalty, and searching 
for excuses and mitigations. . . . 

All the freshness of his first love for Marjorie 
returned, his keen sense of the sweet gallantry of her 
voice and bearing, his admiration for the swift, fal- 
conlike swoop of her decisions, for the grace and poise 
of her body, and the steady frankness of her eyes ; but 
now it was all charged with his sense of this new joint 
life germinating at the heart of her slender vigour, 
spreading throughout her being to change it alto- 
gether into womanhood for ever. In this new light 
his passion for research and all the scheme of his life 
appeared faded and unworthy, as much egotism as if 
he had been devoted to hunting or golf or any such 
aimless preoccupation. Fatherhood gripped him and 
faced him about. It was manifestly a monstrous 
thing that he should ever have expected Marjorie to 
become a mere undisturbing accessory to the selfish 
intellectualism of his career, to shave and limit her- 
self to a mere bachelor income, and play no part of 
her own in the movement of the world. He knew bet- 
ter now. Research must fall into its proper place, 



262 MARRIAGE 

and for his immediate business he must set to work to 
supplement his manifestly inadequate resources. 

At first he could form no plan at all for doing" 
that. He determined that research must still have 
his morning hours until lunch-time, and, he privately 
resolved, some part of the night. The rest of his 
day, he thought, he would set aside for a time to 
money-making. But he was altogether inexperienced 
in the methods of money-making; it was a new prob- 
lem, and a new sort of problem to him altogether. He 
discovered himself helpless and rather silly in the 
matter. The more obvious possibilities seemed to be 
that he might lecture upon his science or write. He 
communicated with a couple of lecture agencies, and 
was amazed at their scepticism ; no doubt he knew his 
science, on that point they were complimentary in a 
profuse, unconvincing manner, but could he interest 
like X and here they named a notorious quack 
could he draw? He offered Science Notes to a week- 
ly periodical; the editor answered that for the pur- 
poses of his publication he preferred, as between pro- 
fessors and journalists, journalists. " You real 
scientific men," he said, " are no doubt a thousand 
times more accurate and novel and all that, but as 

no one seems able to understand you " He went 

to his old fellow-student, Gwenn, who was editing 
The Scientific Review, and through him he secured 
some semi-popular lectures, which involved, he f ound r 
travelling about twenty-nine miles weekly at the rate 
of four-and^sixpence a mile counting nothing for 
the lectures. Afterwards Gwenn arranged for some 
regular notes on physics and micro-chemistry. Traf- 
ford made out a weekly time-table, on whose white 
of dignity, leisure, and the honourable pursuit of 
knowledge, a diaper of red marked the claims of 
domestic necessity. 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 263 
6 

It was astonishing how completely this coming 
child dominated the whole atmosphere and all the 
circumstances of the Traffords. It became their 
central fact, to which everything else turned and 
pointed. Its effect on Marjorie'g circle of school and 
college friends was prodigious. She was the first of 
their company to cross the mysterious boundaries of 
a woman's life. She became to them a heroine ming- 
led with something of the priestess. They called 
upon her more abundantly and sat with her, noted 
the change in her eyes and voice and bearing, talking 
with a kind of awe and a faint diffidence of the prom- 
ised new life. 

Many of them had been deeply tinged by the 
women's suffrage movement, the feminist note was 
strong among them, and when one afternoon Ottiline 
Winchelsea brought round Agatha Alimony, the 
novelist, and Agatha said in that deep-ringing voice 
of hers : " I hope it will be a girl, so that presently she 
may fight the battle of her sex," there was the pro- 
foundest emotion. But when Marjorie conveyed that 
to Trafford he was lacking in response. 

" I want a boy," he said, and, being pressed for a 
reason, explained : " Oh, one likes to have a boy. I 
want him with just your quick eyes and ears, my 
dear, and just my own safe and' certain hands." 

Mrs. Pope received the news with that depth and 
aimless complexity of emotion which had now become 
her habitual method with Marjorie. She kissed and 
clasped her daughter, and thought confusedly over 

her shoulder, and said : " Of course, dear Oh, I 

do so hope it won't annoy your father." Daffy was 
'* nice," but vague, and sufficiently feminist to wish it 



264 MARRIAGE 

a daughter, and the pseudo-twins said " Hoo-ra,y !" 
and changed the subject at the earliest possible op- 
portunity. But Theodore was deeply moved at the 
prospect of becoming an uncle, and went apart and 
mused deeply and darkly thereon for some time. It 
was difficult to tell just what Trafford's mother 
thought, she was complex and subtle, and evidently 
did not show Marjorie all that was in her mind; but 
at any rate it was clear the prospect of a grandchild 
pleased and interested her. And about Aunt Ples- 
sington's views there was no manner of doubt at all. 
She thought, and remarked judicially, as one might 
criticize a game of billiards, that on the whole it was 
just a little bit too soon. 



Marjorie kept well throughout March and April, 
and then suddenly she grew unutterably weary and 
uncomfortable in London. The end of April came 
hot and close and dry it might have been July for 
the heat the scrap of garden wilted, and the streets 
were irritating with fine dust and blown scraps of 
paper and drifting straws. She could think of noth- 
ing but the shade of trees, and cornfields under sun- 
light and the shadows of passing clouds. So Traf- 
ford took out an old bicycle and wandered over the 
home counties for three days, and at last hit upon a 
little country cottage near Great Missenden, a cot- 
tage a couple of girl artists had furnished and now 
wanted to let. It had a long, untidy vegetable gar- 
den and a small orchard and drying-ground, with an 
old, superannuated humbug of a pear-tree near the 
centre surrounded by a green seat, and high hedges 
with the promise of honeysuckle and dog-roses, and 
gaps that opened into hospitable beechwoods wood's 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 265 

not so thick but that there were glades of bluebells, 
bracken and, to be exact, in places embattled sting- 
ing-nettles. He took it and engaged a minute, active, 
interested, philoprogenitive servant girl for it, and 
took Marjorie thither in a taxi-cab. She went out, 
wrapped in a shawl, and sat under the pear-tree and 
cried quietly with weakness and sentiment and the 
tenderness of afternoon sunshine, and forthwith 
began to pick up wonderfully, and was presently 
writing to Trafford to buy her a dog to go for walks 
with, while he was away in Lbndon. 

Trafford was still struggling along with his re- 
search in spite of a constant gravitation to the 
cottage and Marjorie's side, but he was also doing 
his best to grapple with the difficulties of his financial 
situation. His science notes, which were very uncon- 
genial and difficult to do, and his lecturing, still left 
his income far behind his expenditure, and the prob- 
lem of minimising the inevitable fresh inroads on his 
capital was insistent and distracting. He discovered 
that he could manage his notes more easily and write 
a more popular article if he dictated to a typist 
instead of writing out the stuff in his own manuscript. 
Dictating made his sentences more copious and open, 
and the effect of the young lady's by no means acquis- 
cent back was to make him far more explicit than he 
tended to be pen in hand. With a pen and alone he 
felt the boredom of the job unendurably, and, to be 
through with it, became more and more terse, allusive, 
and compactly technical, after the style of his origi- 
nal papers. One or two articles by him were ac- 
cepted and published by the monthly magazines, but 
as he took what the editors sent him, he did not find 
this led to any excessive opulence. . . . 

But his heart was very much with Marjorie 
through all this time. Hitherto he had taken her 



266 MARRIAGE 

health and vigour and companionship for granted, 
and it changed his attitudes profoundly to find her 
now an ailing thing, making an invincible appeal for 
restraint and consideration and help. She changed 
marvellously, she gained a new dignity, and her com- 
plexion took upon itself a fresh, soft beauty. He 
would spend three or four days out of a week at the 
cottage, and long hours of that would be at her side, 
paper and notes of some forthcoming lecture at hand 
neglected, talking to her consolingly and dreamingly. 
His thoughts were full of ideas about education ; he 
was obsessed, as are most intelligent young parents of 
the modern type, by the enormous possibilities of hu- 
man improvement that might be achieved if only 
one could begin with a baby from the outset, on the 
best lines, with the best methods, training and pre- 
paring it presumably for a cleaned and chastened 
world. Indeed he made all the usual discoveries of 
intelligent modern young parents very rapidly, fully 
and completely, and overlooked most of those prac- 
tical difficulties that finally reduce them to human 
dimensions again in quite the normal fashion. 

" I sit and muse sometimes when I ought to be 
computing," he said. " Old Durgan watches me and 
grunts. But think, if we take reasonable care, watch 
its phases, stand ready with a kindergarten toy di- 
rectly it stretches out its hand think what we can 
make of it !" . . . 

" We will make it the most wonderful child in the 
world," said Marjorie. " Indeed ! what else can it 
be?" 

" Your eyes," said 1 Trafford, " and my hands." 

" A girl." 

" A boy." 

He kissed her white and passive wrist. 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 267 

7 

The child was born a little before expectation at 
the cottage throughout a long summer's night and 
'* day in early September. Its coming into the world 
was a long and painful struggle; the general practi- 
tioner who had seemed two days before a competent 
and worthy person enough, revealed himself as hesi- 
tating, old-fashioned, and ill-equipped. He had a 
lingering theological objection to the use of chloro- 
form, and the nurse from London sulked under his 
directions and came and discussed his methods scorn- 
fully with Trafford. From sundown until daylight 
Trafford chafed in the little sitting-room and tried 
to sleep, and hovered listening at the foot of the nar- 
row staircase to the room above. He lived through 
interminable hours of moaning and suspense. . . . 
The dawn and sunrise came with a quality of 
beautiful horror. For years afterwards that memory 
stood out among other memories as something pecu- 
liarly strange and dreadful. Day followed an inter- 
minable night and broke slowly. Things crept out of 
darkness, awoke as it were out of mysteries and 
reclothed themselves in unsubstantial shadows and 
faint-hued forms. All through that slow infiltration 
of the world with light and then with colour, the 
universe it seemed was moaning and endeavouring, 
and a weak and terrible struggle went on and kept on 
in that forbidden room whose windows opened upon 
the lightening world, dying to a sobbing silence, ris- 
ing again to agonizing cries, fluctuating, a perpetual 
obstinate failure to achieve a tormenting end. He 
went out, and behold the sky was a wonder of pink 
flushed level clouds and golden hope, and nearly 
every star except the morning star had gone, the 
supine moon was pale and half-dissolved in blue, and 



268 MARRIAGE 

the grass which had been grey and wet, was green 
again, and the bushes and trees were green. He 
returned and hovered in the passage, washed his face, 
listened outside the door for age-long moments, and 
then went out again to listen under the window. . . . 

He went to his room and shaved, sat for a long 
time thinking, and then suddenly knelt by his bed and 
prayed. He had never prayed before in all his 
life. . . . 

He returned to the garden, and there neglected 
and wet with dew was the camp chair Marjorie had 
sat on the evening before, the shawl she had been 
wearing, the novel she had been reading. He brought 
these things in as if they were precious treasures. . . . 

Light was pouring into the world again now. He 
noticed with an extreme particularity the detailed 
dewy delicacy of grass and twig, the silver edges to 
the leaves of briar and nettle, the soft clearness of the 
moss on bank and wall. He noted the woods with 
the first warmth of autumn tinting their green, the 
clear, calm sky, with just a wisp or so of purple 
cloud waning to a luminous pink on the brightening 
east, the exquisite freshness of the air. And still 
through the open window, incessant, unbearable, 
came this sound of Marjorie moaning, now dying 
away, now reviving, now weakening again. . . . 

Was she dying? Were they murdering her? It 
was incredible this torture could go on. Somehow it 
must end. Chiefly he wanted to go in and kill the 
doctor. But it would do no good to kill the doctor ! 

At last the nurse came out, looking a little scared, 
to ask him to cycle three miles away and borrow some 
special sort of needle that the fool of a doctor had 
forgotten. He went, outwardly meek, and returning 
was met by the little interested servant, very alert and 
excited and rather superior for here was something 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 269 

no man can do with the news that he had a beauti- 
ful little daughter, and that all was well with 
Marjorie. 

He said " Thank God, thank God!" several times, 
and then went out into the kitchen and began to eat 
some flabby toast and drink some lukewarm tea he 
found there. He was horribly fatigued. " Is she 
all right?" he asked over his shoulder, hearing the 
doctor's footsteps on the stairs. . . . 

They were very pontifical and official with him. 

Presently they brought out a strange, wizened 
little animal, wailing very stoutly, with a face like a 
very, very old woman, and reddish skin and hair it 
had quite a lot of wet blackish hair of an incredible 
delicacy of texture. It kicked with a stumpy mon- 
key's legs and inturned feet. He held it: his heart 
went out to it. He pitied it beyond measure, it was 
so weak and ugly. He was astonished and distressed 
by the fact of its extreme endearing ugliness. He 
had expected something strikingly pretty. It clench- 
ed a fist, and he perceived it had all its complement 
of fingers and ridiculous, pretentious little finger 
nails. Inside that fist it squeezed his heart. . . . 
He did not want to give it back to them. He wanted 
to protect it. He felt they could not understand it 
or forgive, as he could forgive, its unjustifiable 
feebleness. . . . 

Later, for just a little while, he was permitted to 
see Marjorie Marjorie so spent, so unspeakably 
weary, and yet so reassuringly vital and living, so 
full of gentle pride and gentler courage amidst the 
litter of surgical precaution, that the tears came 
streaming down his face and he sobbed shamelessly as 
he kissed her. " Little daughter," she whispered and 
smiled just as she had always smiled that sweet, 



270 MARRIAGE 

dear smile of hers ! and closed her eyes and said no 
more. . . . 

Afterwards as he walked up and down the garden 
he remembered their former dispute and thought how 
characteristic of Marjorie it was to have a daughter 
in spite of all his wishes. 

8 

For weeks and weeks this astonishing and unpre- 
cedented being filled the Traffords' earth and sky. 
Very speedily its minute quaintness passed, and it 
became a vigorous delightful baby that was, as the 
nurse explained repeatedly and very explicitly, not 
only quite exceptional and distinguished, but exactly 
everything that a baby should be. Its weight became 
of supreme importance; there was a splendid week 
when it put on nine ounces, and an indifferent one 
when it added only one. And then came a terrible 
crisis. It was ill ; some sort of infection had reached 
it, an infantile cholera. Its temperature mounted to 
a hundred and three and a half. It became a flushed 
misery, wailing with a pathetic feeble voice. Then it 
ceased to wail. Marjorie became white-lipped and 
heavy-eyed from want of sleep, and it seemed to 
Trafford that perhaps his child might die. It seemed 
to him that the spirit of the universe must be a mon- 
strous calivan since children had to die. He 
went for a long walk through the October beech- 
woods, under a windy sky, and in a drift of falling 
leaves, wondering with a renewed freshness at the 
haunting futilities of life. Life was not futile any- 
thing but that, but futility seemed to be stalking it, 
waiting for it. ... When he returned the child 
was already better, and in a few days it was well 
again but very light and thin. 



THE CHILD OF THE AGES 271 

When they were sure of its safety, Marjorie and 
he confessed the extremity of their fears to one an- 
other. They had not dared to speak before, and 
even now they spoke in undertones of the shadow 
that had hovered and passed over the dearest thing 
in their lives. 




IN the course of the next six months the child of the 
ages became an almost ordinary healthy baby, and 
Trafford began to think consecutively about his 
scientific work again in the intervals of effort of a 
more immediately practical sort. 

The recall of molecular physics and particularly 
of the internal condition of colloids to something like 
their old importance in his life was greatly acceler- 
ated by the fact that a young Oxford don named 
Behrens was showing extraordinary energy in what 
had been for a time Trafford's distinctive and undis- 
puted field. Behrens was one of those vividly clever 
energetic people who are the despair of originative 
men. He had begun as Traiford's pupil and sedulous 
ape ; he had gone on to work that imitated Trafford's 
in everything except its continual freshness, and 
now he was ransacking every scrap of suggestion to 
be found in Trafford's work, and developing it with 
an intensity of uninspired intelligence that most 
marvellously simulated originality. He was already 
being noted as an authority ; sometimes in an article 
his name would be quoted and Trafford's omitted in 
relation to Trafford's ideas, and in every way his 
emergence and the manner of his emergence threaten- 
ed and stimulated his model and master. A great 
effort had to be made. Trafford revived the droop- 
ing spirits of Durgan by a renewed punctuality in 
the laboratory. He began to stay away from home 
at night and work late again, now, Uowever, under 

272 



THE NEW PHASE 273 

no imperative inspiration, but simply because it was 
only by such an invasion of the evening and night 
that it would be possible to make headway against 
Behren's unremitting industry. And this new demand 
upon Trafford's already strained mental and ner- 
vous equipment began very speedily to have its effect 
upon his domestic life. 

It is only in romantic fiction that man can work 
strenuously to the limit of his power and come home 
to be sweet, sunny and entertaining. Trafford's pre- 
occupation involved a certain negligence of Marjorie, 
a certain indisposition to be amused or interested by 
trifling things, a certain irritability. . . . 



And now, indeed, the Traffords were coming to the 
most difficult and fatal phase in marriage. They had 
had that taste of defiant adventure which is the 
crown of a spirited love affair, they had known the 
sweetness of a maiden passion for a maid, and they 
had felt all those rich and solemn emotions, those 
splendid fears and terrible hopes that weave them- 
selves about the great partnership in parentage. 
And now, so far as sex was concerned, there might be 
much joy and delight still, but no more wonder, no 
fresh discoveries of incredible new worlds and unsus- 
pected stars. Love, which had been a new garden, an 
unknown land, a sunlit sea to launch upon, was now a 
rich treasure-house of memories. And memories, al- 
though they afford a perpetually increasing enrich- 
ment to emotion, are not sufficient in themselves for 
the daily needs of life. 

For this, indeed, is the truth of passionate love, 
that it works outs its purpose and comes to an end. 
A day arrives in every marriage when the lovers must 



274 MARRIAGE 

face each other, disillusioned, stripped of the last 
shred of excitement undisguisedly themselves. And 
our two were married; they had bound themselves 
together under a penalty of scandalous disgrace, to 
take the life-long consequences of their passionate 
association. 

It was upon Trafford that this exhaustion of the 
sustaining magic of love pressed most severely, be- 
cause it was he who had made the greatest adapta- 
tions to the exigencies of their union. He had 
crippled, he perceived more and more clearly, the 
research work upon which his whole being had once 
been set, and his hours were full of tiresome and 
trivial duties and his mind engaged and worried by 
growing financial anxieties. He had made these 
abandonments in a phase of exalted passion for the 
one woman in the world and her unprecedented child, 
and now he saw, in spite of all his desire not to see, 
that she was just a weak human being among human 
beings, and neither she nor little Margharita so very 
marvellous. 

But while Marjorie shrank to the dimensions of 
reality, research remained still a luminous and com- 
manding dream. In love one fails or one wins home, 
but the lure of research is for ever beyond the hills, 
every victory is a new desire. Science has inex- 
haustibly fresh worlds to conquer. . . . 

He was beginning now to realize the dilemma of 
his life, the reality of the opposition between Mar- 
jorie and child and home on the one hand and on the 
other this big wider thing, this remoter, severer 
demand upon his being. He had long perceived these 
were distinct and different things, but now it appear- 
ed more and more inevitable that they should be 
antagonistic and mutually disregardful things. Each 
claimed him altogether, it seemed, and suffered com- 



THE NEW PHASE 275 

promise impatiently. And this is where the particu- 
lar stress of his situation came in. Hitherto he had 
believed that nothing of any importance was secret 
or inexplicable between himself and Marjorie. His 
ideal of his relationship had assumed a complete 
sympathy of feeling, an almost instinctive identity of 
outlook. And now it was manifest they were living 
in a state of inadequate understanding, that she 
knew only in the most general and opaque forms, the 
things that interested him so profoundly, and had 
but the most superficial interest in his impassioned 
curiosities. And missing as she did the strength of 
his intellectual purpose she missed too, she had no 
inkling of, the way in which her careless expansive- 
ness pressed upon him. She was unaware that she 
was destroying an essential thing in his life. 

He could not tell how far this antagonism was 
due to inalterable discords of character, how far it 
might not be an ineradicable sex difference, a neces- 
sary aspect of marriage. The talk of old Sir Rod- 
erick Dover at the Winton Club germinated in his 
mind, a branching and permeating suggestion. And 
then would come a phase of keen sympathy with 
Marjorie; she would say brilliant and penetrating 
things, display a swift cleverness that drove all these 
intimations of incurable divergence clean out of his 
head again. Then he would find explanations in the 
differences between his and Marjorie's training and 
early associations. He perceived his own upbring- 
ing had had a steadfastness and consistency that had 
been altogether lacking in hers. He had had the 
rare advantage of perfect honesty in the teaching 
and tradition of his home. There had never been 
any shams or sentimentalities for him to find out and 
abandon. From boyhood his mother's hand had 
pointed steadily to the search for truth as the 



276 MARRIAGE 

supreme ennobling fact in life. She had never 
preached this to him, never delivered discourses upon 
his father's virtues, but all her conversation and life 
was saturated with this idea. Compared with this 
atmosphere of high and sustained direction, the 
intellectual and moral quality of the Popes, he saw, 
was the quality of an agitated rag bag. They had 
thought nothing out, joined nothing together, they 
seemed to believe everything and nothing, they were 
neither religious nor irreligious, neither moral nor 
adventurous. In the place of a religion, and tainting 
their entire atmosphere, they had the decaying re- 
mains of a dead Anglicanism; it was clear they did 
not believe in its creed, and as clear that they did 
not want to get rid of it ; it afforded them no guid- 
ance, but only vague pretensions, and the dismal 
exercises of Silas Root flourished in its shadows, a 
fungus, a post-mortem activity of the soul. None of 
them had any idea of what they were for or what 
their lives as a whole might mean ; they had no stand- 
ards, but only instincts and an instinctive fear of 
instincts; Pope wanted to be tremendously respected 
and complimented by everybody and get six per cent, 
for his money; Mrs. Pope wanted things to go 
smoothly; the young people had a general indisposi- 
tion to do anything that might " look bad," and 
otherwise " have a good time." But neither Mar- 
jorie nor any of them had any test for a good time, 
and so they fluctuated in their conceptions of what 
they wanted from day to day. Now it was Ples- 
singtonian standards, now Carmel standards, now 
the standards of Agatha Alimony ; now it was a stim- 
ulating novel, now a gleam of aesthetic imaginative- 
ness come, Heaven knows whence, that dominated her 
mood. He was beginning to understand all this at 
last, and to see the need of coherence in Marjorie's 
mood. 



THE NEW PHASE 277 

I* 

He realized the unfairness of keeping his thoughts 
to himself, the need of putting his case before her, 
and making her realize their fatal and widening 
divergence. He wanted to infect her with his scien- 
tific passion, to give her his sense of the gravity of 
their practical difficulties. He would sit amidst his 
neglected work in his laboratory framing explana- 
tory phrases. He would prepare the most lucid and 
complete statements, and go about with these in his 
mind for days waiting for an opportunity of saying 
what he felt so urgently had to be said. 

But the things that seemed so luminous and ef- 
fective in the laboratory had a curious way of fading 
and shrinking beside the bright colours of Marjorie's 
Bokhara hangings, in the presence of little Mar- 
gharita pink and warm and entertaining in her bath, 
or amidst the fluttering rustle of the afternoon tea- 
parties that were now becoming frequent in his 
house. And when he was alone with her he discov- 
ered they didn't talk now any more except in 
terms of a constrained and formal affection. 

What had happened to them? What was the 
matter between himself and Marjorie that he could- 
n't even intimate his sense of their divergence? He 
would have liked to discuss the whole thing with his 
mother, but somehow that seemed disloyal to Mar- 
jorie. . . . 

One day they quarrelled. 

He came in about six in the afternoon, jaded 
from the delivery of a suburban lecture, and the 
consequent tedium of suburban travel, and discover- 
ed Marjorie examining the effect of a new picture 
which had replaced the German print of sunlit waves 
over the dining-room mantelpiece. It was a painting 
in the post-impressionist manner, and it had arrived 
after the close of the exhibition in Weldon Street, at 



278 MARRIAGE 

which Marjorie had bought it. She had bought it 
in obedience to a sudden impulse, and its imminence 
had long weighed upon her conscience. She had 
gone to the show with Sydney Flor and old Mrs. 
Flor, Sydney's mother, and a kind of excitement had 
come upon them at the idea of possessing this par- 
ticular picture. Mrs. Flor had already bought three 
Herbins, and her daughter wanted to dissuade her 
from more. " But they're so delightful," said Mrs. 
Flor. " You're overrunning your allowance," said 
Sydney. Disputing the point, they made inquiries 
for the price, and learnt that this bright epigram in 
colour was going begging was even offered at a 
reduction from the catalogue price. A reduced 
price always had a strong appeal nowadays to Mar- 
j one's mind. " If you don't get it," she said abrupt- 
ly, " I shall." 

The transition from that attitude to ownership 
was amazingly rapid. Then nothing remained but 
to wait for the picture. She had dreaded a mistake, 
a blundering discord, but now with the thing hung 
she could see her quick eye had not betrayed her. It 
was a mass of reds, browns, purples, and vivid greens 
and greys; an effect of roof and brick house facing 
upon a Dutch canal, and it lit up the room and was 
echoed and reflected by all the rest of her courageous 
colour scheme, like a coal-fire amidst mahogany and 
metal. It justified itself to her completely, and she 
faced her husband with a certain confidence. 

"Hullo!" he cried. 

" A new picture," she said. " What do you think 
of it?" 

"What is it?" 

" A town or something never mind. Look at 
the colour. It heartens everything." 



THE NEW PHASE 279 

Trafford looked at the painting with a reluctant 
admiration. 

" It's brilliant and impudent. He's an artist 
whoever he is. He hits the thing. But I say how 
did you get it?" 

" I bought it." 

"Bought it! Good Lord! How much?" 

" Oh! ten guineas," said Marjorie, with an affec- 
tation of ease ; " it will be worth thirty in ten years' 
time." 

Trafford's reply was to repeat : " Ten guineas !" 

Their eyes met, and there was singularly little 
tenderness in their eyes. 

" It was priced at thirteen," said Marjorie, end- 
ing a pause, and with a sinking heart. 

Trafford had left her side. He walked to the 
window and sat down in a chair. 

" I think this is too much," he said, and his voice 
had disagreeable notes in it she had never heard 1 
before. " I have just been earning two guineas at 
Croydon, of all places, administering comminuted 
science to fools and here I find this exploit! Ten 
guineas' worth of picture. To say we can't afford it 
is just to waste a mild expression. It's mad extrav- 
agance. It's waste of money it's oh! monstrous 
disloyalty. Disloyalty !" He stared resentful at the 
cheerful, unhesitating daubs of the picture for a 
moment. Its affected carelessness goaded him to 
fresh words. He spoke in a tone of absolute hostility. 
" I think this winds me up to something," he said. 
" You'll have to give up your cheque-book, Mar- 
jorie." 

" Give up my cheque-book !" 

He looked up at her and nodded. There was a 
warm flush in her cheeks, her lips panted apart, and 
tears of disappointment and vexation were shining 



280 MARRIAGE 

beautifully in her eyes. She mingled the quality of an 
indignant woman with the distress and unreasonable 
resentment of a child. 

" Because I've bought this picture?" 

" Can we go on like this ?" he asked, and felt how 
miserably he had bungled in opening this question 
that had been in his mind so long. 

" But it's beautiful!" she said. 

He disregarded that. He felt now that he had to 
go on with these long-premeditated expostulations. 
He was tired and dusty from his third-class carriage, 
his spirit was tired and dusty, and he said what he 
had to say without either breadth or power, an un- 
dignified statement of personal grievances, a mere 
complaint of the burthen of work that falls upon a 
man. That she missed the high aim in him, and all 
sense of the greatness they were losing had vanished 
from his thoughts. He had too heavy a share of 
the common burthen, and she pressed upon him un- 
thinkingly ; that was all he could say. He girded at 
her with a bitter and loveless truth; it was none the 
less cruel that in her heart she knew these things he 
said were true. But he went beyond justice as 
every quarrelling human being does ; he called the 
things she had bought and the harmonies she had 
created, " this litter and rubbish for which I am 
wasting my life." That stabbed into her pride 
acutely and deeply. She knew anyhow that it wasn't 
so simple and crude as that. It was not mere witless- 
ness she contributed to their trouble. She tried to 
indicate her sense of that. But she had no power of 
ordered reasoning, she made futile interruptions, she 
was inexpressive of anything but emotion, she felt 
gagged against his flow of indignant, hostile words. 
They blistered her. 



THE NEW PHASE 281 

Suddenly she went to her little desk in the corner, 
unlocked it with trembling hands, snatched her 
cheque-bock out of a heap of still unsettled bills, and 
having locked that anti-climax safe away again, 
turned upon him. " Here it is," she said, and stood 
poised for a moment. Then she flung down the little 
narrow grey cover nearly empty, it was, of cheques, 
on the floor before him. 

" Take it," she cried, " take it. I never asked 
3 T ou to give it me." 

A memory of Orta and its reeds and sunshine and 
love rose like a luminous mist between them. . . . 

She ran weeping from the room. 

He leapt to his feet as the door closed. " Mar- 
jorie!" he cried. 

But she did not hear him. . . . 



The disillusionment about marriage which had 
discovered Trafford a thwarted, overworked, and 
worried man, had revealed Marjorie with time on her 
hands, superabundant imaginative energy, and no 
clear intimation of any occupation. With them, as 
with thousands of young couples in London to-day, 
the breadwinner was overworked, and the spending 
partner's duty was chiefly the negative one of not 
spending. You cannot consume your energies merely 
in not spending money. Do what she could, Mar- 
jorie could not contrive to make house and child fill 
the waking hours. She was far too active and irri- 
table a being to be beneficial company all day for 
genial, bubble-blowing little Margharita; she could 
play with that young lady and lead her into ecstasies 
of excitement and delight, and she could see with an 
almost instinctive certainty when anything was going 



282 MARRIAGE 

wrong; but for the rest that little life reposed far 
more beneficially upon the passive acquiescence of 
May, her pink and wholesome nurse. And the house- 
hold generally was in the hands of a trustworthy 
cook-general, who maintained a tolerable routine. 
Marjorie did not dare to have an idea about food or 
domestic arrangements ; if she touched that routine 
so much as with her little finger it sent up the bills. 
She could knock off butcher and greengrocer and do 
every scrap of household work that she could touch, 
in a couple of hours a day. She tried to find some 
work to fill her leisure,; she suggested to Trafford 
that she might help him by writing up his Science 
Notes from rough pencil memoranda, but when it 
became clear that the first step to her doing this 
would be the purchase of a Remington typewriter 
and a special low table to carry it, he became bluntly 
discouraging. She thought of literary work, and sat 
down one day to write a short story and earn 
guineas, and was surprised to find that she knew 
nothing of any sort of human being about whom she 
could invent a story. She tried a cheap subscription 
at Mudie's and novels, and they filled her with a 
thirst for events ; she tried needlework, and found her 
best efforts aesthetically feeble and despicable, and 
that her mind prowled above the silks and colours 
like a hungry wolf. 

The early afternoons were the worst time, from 
two to four, before calling began. The devil was 
given great power over Marjorie's early afternoon. 
She could even envy her former home life then, and 
reflect that there, at any rate, one had a chance of a 
game or a quarrel with Daffy or Syd or Rom or 
Theodore. She would pull herself together and go 
out for a walk, and whichever way she went there 
were shops and shops and shops, a glittering array 



THE NEW PHASE 283 

of tempting opportunities for spending money. 
Sometimes she would give way to spending exactly 
as a struggling drunkard decides to tipple. She 
would fix on some object, some object trivial and a 
little rare and not too costly, as being needed when 
she knew perfectly well it wasn't needed and choose 
the remotest shops and display the exactest insist- 
ence upon her requirements. Sometimes she would 
get home from these raids without buying at all. 
After four the worst of the day was over; one could 
call on people or people might telephone and follow 
up with a call; and there was a chance of Trafford 
coming home. . . . 

One day at the Carmels' she found herself engaged 
in a vigorous flirtation with young Carmel. She 
hadn't noticed it coming on, but there she was in a 
windowseat talking quite closely to him. He said he 
was writing a play, a wonderful passionate play 
about St. Francis, and only she could inspire and 
advise him. Wasn't there some afternoon in the week 
when she sat and sewed, so that he might come and 
sit by her and read to her and talk to her? He made 
his request with a certain confidence, but it filled her 
with a righteous panic; she pulled him up with an 
abruptness that was almost inartistic. On her way 
home she was acutely ashamed of herself; this was 
the first time she had let any man but Trafford think 
he might be interesting to her, but once or twice on 
former occasions she had been on the verge of such 
provocative intimations. This sort of thing anyhow 
mustn't happen. 

But if she didn't dress with any distinction 
because of the cost and didn't flirt and trail men in 
her wake, what was she to do at the afternoon gath- 
erings which were now her chief form of social con- 
tact ? What was going to bring people to her house ? 



284 MARRIAGE 

She knew that she was more than ordinarily beauti- 
ful and that she could talk well, but that does not 
count for much if you are rather dowdy, and quite 
uneventfully virtuous. 

It became the refrain of all her thoughts that she 
must find something to do. 

There remained "Movements.*' 

She might take up a movement. She was a rather 
exceptionally good public speaker. Only her elope- 
ment and marriage had prevented her being president 
of her college Debating Society. If she devoted her- 
self to some movement she would be free to devise an 
ostentatiously simple dress for herself and stick to it, 
and she would be able to give her little house a signi- 
ficance of her own, and present herself publicly 
against what is perhaps quite the best of all back- 
grounds for a good-looking, clear-voiced, self-pos- 
sessed woman, a platform. Yes; she had to go in 
for a Movement. 

She reviewed the chief contemporary Movements 
much as she might have turned over dress fabrics in a 
draper's shop, weighing the advantages and disad- 
vantages of each. . . . 

London, of course, is always full of Movements. 
Essentially they are absorbents of superfluous femi- 
nine energy. They have a common flavour of pro- 
gress and revolutionary purpose, and common fea- 
tures in abundant meetings, officials, and organization 
generally. Few are expensive, and still fewer pro- 
duce any tangible results in the world. They direct 
themselves at the most various ends; the Poor, that 
favourite butt, either as a whole or in such typical 
sections as the indigent invalid or the indigent aged, 
the young, public health, the woman's cause, the 
prevention of animal food, anti-vivisection, the grat- 
uitous advertisement of Shakespear (that neglected 



THE NEW PHASE 285 

poet), novel but genteel modifications of medical or 
religious practice, dress reform, the politer aspects 
of socialism, the encouragement of aeronautics, 
universal military service, garden suburbs, domestic 
arts, proportional representation, duodecimal arith- 
metic, and the liberation of the drama. They range 
in size and importance from campaigns on a Ples- 
singtonian scale to sober little intellectual Becking- 
ham things that arrange to meet half-yearly, and 
die quietly before the second assembly. If Heaven 
by some miracle suddenly gave every Movement in 
London all it professed to want, our world would be 
standing on its head and everything would be 
extremely unfamiliar and disconcerting. But, as 
Mr. Roosevelt once remarked, the justifying thing 
about life is the effort and not the goal, and few 
Movements involve any real and impassioned strug- 
gle to get to the ostensible object. They exist as an 
occupation; they exercise the intellectual and moral 
activities without undue disturbance of the normal 
routines of life. In the days when everybody was 
bicycling an ingenious mechanism called Hacker's 
Home Bicycle used to be advertised. Hacker's Home 
Bicycle was a stand bearing small rubber wheels upon 
which one placed one's bicycle (properly equipped 
with a cyclometer) in such a way that it could be 
mounted and ridden without any sensible forward 
movement whatever. In bad weather, or when the 
state of the roads made cycling abroad disagreeable 
Hacker's Home Bicycle could be placed in front of 
an open window and ridden furiously for any length 
of time. Whenever the rider tired, he could descend 
comfortably at home again and examine the 
cyclometer to see how far he had been. In exactly 
the same way the ordinary London Movement gives 
scope for the restless and progressive impulse in 



286 MARRIAGE 

human nature without the risk of personal entangle- 
ments or any inconvenient disturbance of the milieu. 
Marjorie considered the Movements about her. 
She surveyed the accessible aspects of socialism, but 
that old treasure-house of constructive suggestion 
had an effect like a rich chateau which had been 
stormed and looted by a mob. For a time the 
proposition that " we are all Socialists nowadays " 
had prevailed. The blackened and discredited frame 
remained, the contents were scattered; Aunt Ples- 
sington had a few pieces, the Tory Democrats had 
taken freely, the Liberals were in possession of a 
hastily compiled collection. There wasn't, she per- 
ceived, and there never had been a Socialist Move- 
ment; the socialist idea which had now become part 
of the general consciousness, had always been too big 
for polite domestication. She weighed Aunt Ples- 
sington, too, in the balance, and found her not so 
much wanting indeed as excessive. She felt that a 
Movement with Aunt Plessington in it couldn't 
possibly offer even elbow-room for anybody else. 
Philanthropy generally she shunned. The movements 
that aim at getting poor people into rooms and shout- 
ing at them in an improving, authoritative way, 
aroused an instinctive dislike in her. Her sense of 
humour, again, would not let her patronize Shakes- 
pear or the stage, or raise the artistic level of the 
country by means of green-dyed deal, and the in- 
fluence of Trafford on her mind debarred her from 
attempting the physical and moral regeneration of 
humanity by means of beans and nut butter. It was 
indeed rather by the elimination of competing move- 
ments than by any positive preference that she 
found herself declining at last towards Agatha 
Alimony's section of the suffrage movement. . . . 
It was one of the less militant sections, but it held 



THE NEW PHASE 287 

more meetings and passed more resolutions than any 
two others. 

One day Trafford, returning from an afternoon 
of forced and disappointing work in his laboratory, 
his mind had been steadfastly sluggish and inelas- 
tic, discovered Marjorie's dining room crowded 
with hats and all the rustle and colour which plays 
so large a part in constituting contemporary femin- 
ine personality. Buzard, the feminist writer, and a 
young man just down from Cambridge who had 
written a decadent poem, were the only men present. 
The chairs were arranged meeting-fashion, but a 
little irregularly to suggest informality; the post- 
impressionist picture was a rosy benediction on the 
gathering, and at a table in the window sat Mrs. 
Pope in the chair, looking quietly tactful in an un- 
usually becoming bonnet, supported by her daugh- 
ter and Agatha Alimony. Marjorie was in a simple 
gown of blueish-grey, hatless amidst a froth of foolish 
bows and feathers, and she looked not only beautiful 
and dignified but deliberately and conscientiously 
patient until she perceived the new arrival. Then he 
noted she was a little concerned for him, and made 
some futile sign he did not comprehend. The meet- 
ing was debating the behaviour of women at the 
approaching census, and a small, earnest, pale-faced 
lady with glasses was standing against the fireplace 
with a crumpled envelope covered with pencil notes 
in her hand, and making a speech. Trafford wanted 
his tea badly, but he had not the wit to realize that 
his study had been converted into a refreshment 
room for the occasion ; he hesitated, and seated him- 
self near the doorway, and so he was caught; he 
couldn't, he felt, get away and seem to slight a 
woman who was giving herself the pains of addressing 
him. 



288 MARRIAGE 

The small lady in glasses was giving a fancy pic- 
ture of the mind of Mr. Asquith and its attitude to 
the suffrage movement, and telling with a sort of 
inspired intimacy just how Mr. Asquith had hoped to 
" bully women down," and just how their various 
attempts to bring home to him the eminent reason- 
ableness of their sex by breaking his windows, inter- 
rupting his meetings, booing at him in the streets 
and threatening his life, had time after time baffled 
this arrogant hope. There had been many signs 
lately that Mr. Asquith's heart was failing him. 
Now here was a new thing to fill him with despair. 
When Mr. Asquith learnt that women refused to be 
counted in the census, then at least she was convinced 
he must give in. When he gave in it would not be 
long she had her information upon good authority 
before they got the Vote. So what they had to do 
was not to be counted in the census. That was their 
paramount duty at the present time. The women of 
England had to say quietly but firmly to the census 
man when he came round : " No, we don't count in an 
election, and we won't count now. Thank you." 
No one could force a woman to fill in a census paper 
she didn't want to, and for her own part, said the 
little woman with the glasses, she'd starve first. (Ap- 
plause.) For her own part she was a householder 
with a census paper of her own, and across that she 
was going to write quite plainly and simply what she 
thought of Mr. Asquith. Some of those present 
wouldn't have census papers to fill up ; they would be 
sent to the man, the so-called Head 1 of the House. 
But the W.S.P.U. had foreseen that. Each house- 
holder had to write down the particulars of the 
people who slept in his house on Sunday night, or who 
arrived home before midday on Monday; the reply 
of the women of England must be not to sleep in a 



THE NEW PHASE 289 

house that night where census papers were properly 
filled, and not to go home until the following after- 
noon. All through that night the women of England 
must be abroad. She herself was prepared, and her 
house would be ready. There would be coffee and 
refreshments enough for an unlimited number of 
efugees, there would be twenty or thirty sofas and 
lattresses and piles of blankets for those who chose 
to sleep safe from all counting. In every quarter of 
London there would be houses of refuge like hers. 
And so they would make Mr. Asquith's census fail, 
as it deserved to fail, as every census would fail until 
women managed these affairs in a sensible way. For 
she supposed they were all agreed that only women 
could manage these things in a sensible way. That 
was her contribution to this great and important 
question. (Applause, amidst which the small lady 
with the glasses resumed her seat.) 

Trafford glanced doorward, but before he could 
move another speaker was in possession of the room. 
This was a very young, tall, fair, round-shouldered 
girl who held herself with an unnatural rigidity, fixed 
her eyes on the floor just in front of the chairwoman, 
and spoke with knitted brows and an effect of ex- 
treme strain. She remarked that some people did 
not approve of this proposed boycott of the census. 
She hung silent for a moment, as if ransacking her 
mind for something mislaid, and then proceeded to 
remark that she proposed to occupy a few moments 
in answering that objection if it could be called an 
objection. They said that spoiling the census was 
an illegitimate extension of the woman movement. 
Well, she objected she objected fiercely to every 
word of that phrase. Nothing was an illegitimate 
extension of the woman movement. Nothing could 
be. (Applause.) That was the very principle they 



290 MARRIAGE 

had been fighting for all along. So that, examined 
in this way, this so-called objection resolved itself 
into a mere question begging phrase. Nothing more. 
And her reply therefore to those who made it was 
that they were begging the question, and however 
well that might do for men, it would certainly not 
do, they would find, for women. (Applause.) For 
the freshly awakened consciousness of women. (Fur- 
ther applause.) This was a war in which quarter 
was neither asked nor given ; if it were not so things 
might be different-,. She remained silent after that 
for the space of twenty seconds perhaps, and then 
remarked that that seemed to be all she had to say, 
and sat down amidst loud encouragement. 

Then with a certain dismay Trafford saw his wife 
upon her feet. He was afraid of the effect upon him- 
self of what she was going to say, but he need have 
had no reason for his fear. Marjorie was a seasoned 
debater, self-possessed, with a voice very well con- 
trolled and a complete mastery of that elaborate 
appearance of reasonableness which is so essential to 
good public speaking. She could speak far better 
than she could talk. And she startled the meeting in 
her opening sentence by declaring that she meant to 
stay at home on the census night, and supply her 
husband with every scrap of information he hadn't 
got already that might be needed to make the return 
an entirely perfect return. (Marked absence of ap- 
plause.) 

She proceeded to avow her passionate interest in 
the feminist movement of which this agitation for the 
vote was merely the symbol. (A voice: " No!") No 
one could be more aware of the falsity of woman's 
position at the present time than she was she seemed 
to be speaking right across the room to Trafford 
they were neither pets nor partners, but something 



THE N$W PHASE 291 

between the two; now indulged like spoilt children, 
now blamed like defaulting partners ; constantly pro- 
voked to use the arts of their sex, constantly mis- 
chievous because of that provocation. She caught 
her breath and stopped for a moment, as if she had 
suddenly remembered the meeting intervening between 
herself and Trafford. No, she said, there was no 
more ardent feminist and suffragist than herself in 
the room. She wanted the vote and everything it 
implied with all her heart. With all her heart. But 
every way to get a thing wasn't the right way, and 
she felt with every fibre of her being that this petu- 
lant hostility to the census was a wrong way and an 
inconsistent way, and likely to be an unsuccessful 
way one that would lose them the sympathy and 
help of just that class of men they should look to for 
support, the cultivated and scientific men. (A voice: 
" Do we want them?") What was the commonest 
charge made by the man in the street against women ? 
that they were unreasonable and unmanageable, 
that it was their way to get things by crying and 
making an irrelevant fuss. And here they were, as 
a body, doing that very thing ! Let them think what 
the census and all that modern organization of vital 
statistics of which it was the central feature stood 
for. It stood for order, for the replacement of 
guesses and emotional generalization by a clear 
knowledge of facts, for the replacement of instinctive 
and violent methods, by which women had everything 
to lose (a voice: "No!") by reason and knowledge 
and self-restraint, by which women had everything 
to gain. To her the advancement of science, the 
progress of civilization, and the emancipation of 
womanhood were nearly synonymous terms. At any 
rate, they were different phases of one thing. They 
were different aspects of one wider purpose. When 



292 MARRIAGE 

they struck at the census, she felt, they struck at 
themselves. She glanced at Trafford as if she would 
convince him that this was the real voice of the suf- 
frage movement, and sat down amidst a brief, polite 
applause, that warmed to rapture as Agatha Ali- 
mony, the deep-voiced, stirring Agatha, rose to 
reply. 

Miss Alimony, who was wearing an enormous hat 
with three nodding ostrich feathers, a purple bow, a 
gold buckle and numerous minor ornaments of vari- 
ous origin and substance, said they had all of them 
listened with the greatest appreciation and sympathy 
to the speech of their hostess. Their hostess was a 
newcomer to the movement, she knew she might say 
this without offence, and was passing through a 
phase, an early phase, through which many of them 
had passed. This was the phase of trying to take a 
reasonable view of an unreasonable situation. (Ap- 
plause.) Their hostess had spoken of science, and 
no doubt science was a great thing; but there was 
something greater than science, and that was the 
ideal. It was woman's place to idealize. Sooner or 
later their hostess would discover, as they had all 
discovered, that it was not to science but the ideal 
that women must look for freedom. Consider, she 
said, the scientific men of to-day. Consider, for ex- 
ample, Sir James Crichton-Browne, the physiologist. 
Was he on their side? On the contrary, he said the 
most unpleasant things about them on every occa- 
sion. He went out of his way to say them. Or con- 
sider Sir Almroth Wright, did he speak well of 
women? Or Sir Ray Lankester, the biologist, who 
was the chief ornament of the Anti-Suffrage Society. 
Or Sir Roderick Dover, the physicist, who forget- 
ting Madame Curie, a far more celebrated physicist 
than himself, she ventured to say (Applause.) had 



THE NEW PHASE 293 

recently gone outside his province altogether to 
abuse feminine research. There were your scientific 
men. Mrs. Trafford had said their anti-census cam- 
paign would annoy scientific men; well, under the 
circumstances, she wanted to annoy scientific men. 
(Applause.) She wanted to annoy everybody. Un- 
til women got the vote (loud applause) the more 
annoying, they were the better. When the whole 
world was impressed by the idea that voteless women 
were an intolerable nuisance, then there would cease 
to be voteless women. (Enthusiasm.) Mr. Asquith 
had said 

And so on for quite a long time. . . . 

Buzard rose out of waves of subsiding emotion. 
Buzard was a slender, long-necked, stalk-shaped man 
with gilt glasses, uneasy movements and a hypersensi- 
tive manner. He didn't so much speak as thrill with 
thought vibrations ; he spoke like an entranced but 
still quite gentlemanly sibyl. After Agatha's deep 
trumpet calls, he sounded like a solo on the piccolo. 
He picked out all his more important words with a 
little stress as though he gave them capitals. He said 
their hostess's remarks had set him thinking. He 
thought it was possible to 1 stew the Scientific Argu- 
ment in its own Juice. There was something he might 
call the Factuarial Estimate of Values. Well, it was 
a High Factuarial Value on their side, in his opinion 
at any rate, when Anthropologists came and told him 
that the Primitive Human Society was a Matriar- 
chate. ("But it wasn't!" said Trafford to himself.) 
It had a High Factuarial Value when they assured 
him that Every One of the Great Primitive Inven- 
tions was made by a Woman, and that it was to 
Women they owed Fire and the early Epics and 
Sagas. ("Good Lord!" said Trafford.) It had a 
High Factuarial Value when they not only asserted 



294 MARRIAGE 

but proved that for Thousands of Years, and per- 
haps for Hundreds of Thousands of Years, Women 
had been in possession of Articulate Speech before 
men rose to that Level of Intelligence. . . . 

It occurred suddenly to Trafford that he could go 
now; that it would be better to go; that indeed he 
must go; it was no doubt necessary that his mind 
should have to work in the same world as Buzard's 
mental processes, but at any rate those two sets of 
unsympathetic functions need not go on in the same 
room. Something might give way. He got up, and 
with those elaborate efforts to be silent that lead to 
the violent upsetting of chairs, got himself out of the 
room and into the passage, and was at once rescued 
by the sympathetic cook-general, in her most gener- 
alized form, and given fresh tea in his study which 
impressed him as being catastrophically disar- 
ranged. . .. . 

4 

When Marjorie was at last alone with him she 
found him in a state of extreme mental stimulation. 
" Your speech," he said, " was all right. I didn't 
know you could speak like that, Marjorie. But it 
soared like the dove above the waters. Waters ! I 
never heard such a flood of rubbish. . . . You 
know, it's a mistake to mass women. It brings out 
something silly. ... It affected Buzard as badly 
as any one. The extraordinary thing is they have a 
case, if only they'd be quiet. Whj did you get them 
together ?" 

" It's our local branch." 

" Yes, but why?" 

" Well, if they talk about things Discussions 
like this clear up their minds." 



THE NEW PHASE 

" Discussion ! It wasn't discussion." 

" Oh ! it was a beginning." 

" Chatter of that sort isn't the beginning of dis- 
cussion, it's the end. It's the death-rattle. Nobody 
was meeting the thoughts of any one. I admit Buz- 
ard, who's a man, talked the worst rubbish of all. 
That Primitive Matriarchate of his ! So it isn't sex. 
I've noticed before that the men in this movement of 
yours are worse than the women. It isn't sex. It's 
something else. It's a foolishness. It's a sort of 
irresponsible looseness." He turned on her gravely. 
" You ought not to get all these people here. It's 
contagious. Before you know it you'll find your own 
mind liquefy and become enthusiastic and slop about. 
You'll begin to talk monomania about Mr. Asquith." 

" But it's a great movement, Rag, even if inci- 
dentally they say and do silly things !" 

"My dear! aren't I feminist? Don't I want 
women fine and sane and responsible? Don't I want 
them to have education, to handle things, to vote like 
men and bear themselves with the gravity of men? 
And these meetings all hat and flutter! These dis- 
plays of weak, untrained, hysterical vehemence! 
These gatherings of open-mouthed impressionable 
young girls to be trained in incoherence ! You can't 
go on with it!" 

Marjorie regarded him quietly for a momeut. " I 
must go on with something," she said. 

" Well, not this." 

" Then what?" 

" Something sane." 

" Tell me what." 

" It must come out of yourself." 

Marjorie thought sullenly for a moment. " Noth- 
ing comes out of myself," she said. 

" I don't think you realize a bit what my life has 



296 MARRIAGE 

become," she went on ; " how much I'm like some one 
who's been put in a pleasant, high-class prison." 

" This house ! It's your own !" 

" It doesn't give me an hour's mental occupation 
in the day. It's all very well to say I might do more 
in it. I can't without absurdity. Or expenditure. 
I can't send the girl away and start scrubbing. I 
can't make jam or do ornamental needlework. The 
shops do it better and cheaper, and I haven't been 
trained to it. I've been trained not to do it. I've 
been brought up on games and school-books, and fed 
on mixed ideas. I can't sit down and pacify myself 
with a needle as women used to do. Besides, I not 
only detest doing needlework but I hate it the sort 
of thing a woman of my kind does anyhow when 
it's done. I'm no artist. I'm not sufficiently inter- 
ested in outside things to spend my time in serious 
systematic reading, and after four or five novels oh, 
these meetings are better than that ! You see, you've 
got a life too much of it I haven't got enough. I 
wish almost I could sleep away half the day. Oh ! I 
want something real, Rag; something more than I've 
got." A sudden inspiration came to her. " Will you 
let me come to your laboratory and work with you ?" 

She stopped abruptly. She caught up her own 
chance question and pointed it at him, a vitally im- 
portant challenge. " Will you let me come to your 
laboratory and work?" she repeated. 

Trafford thought. " No," he said. 

"Why not?" 

" Because I'm in love with you. I can't think of 
my work when you're about. . . . And you're too 
much behind. Oh my dear ! don't you see how you're 
behind?" He paused. "I've been soaking in this 
stuff of mine for ten long years." 

" Yes," assented Marjorie flatly. 



THE NEW PHASE 297 

He watched her downcast face, and then it lifted 
to him with a helpless appeal in her eyes, and lift in 
her voice. " But look here, Rag !" she cried " what 
on earth am I to DO?" 



At least there came out of these discussions one 
thing, a phrase, a purpose, which was to rule the lives 
of the Traffords for some years. It expressed their 
realization that instinct and impulse had so far 
played them false, that life for all its rich gifts of 
mutual happiness wasn't adjusted between them. 
" We've got," they said, " to talk all this out be- 
tween us. We've got to work this out." They 
didn't mean to leave things at a misfit, and that was 
certainly their present relation. They were already 
at the problem of their joint lives, like a tailor with 
his pins and chalk. Marjorie hadn't rejected a 
humorist and all his works in order to decline at last 
to the humorous view of life, that rather stupid, 
rather pathetic, grin-and-bear-it attitude compound- 
ed in incalculable proportions of goodwill, evasion, 
indolence, slovenliness, and (nevertheless) spite 
(masquerading indeed as jesting comment), which 
supplies the fabric of everyday life for untold thou- 
sands of educated middle-class people. She hated 
the misfit. She didn't for a moment propose to pre- 
tend that the ungainly twisted sleeve, the puckered 
back, was extremely jolly and funny. She had mar- 
ried with a passionate anticipation of things fitting 
and fine, and it was her nature, in great matters as in 
small, to get what she wanted strenuously before she 
counted the cost. About both their minds there was 
something sharp and unrelenting, and if Marjorie 
had been disposed to take refuge from facts in swath- 
ings of aesthetic romanticism, whatever covering she 



298 MARRIAGE 

contrived would have been torn to rags very speedily 
by that fierce and steely veracity which swung down 
out of the laboratory into her home. 

One may want to talk things out long before one 
hits upon the phrases that will open up the matter. 

There were two chief facts in the case between 
them and so far they had looked only one in the face, 
the fact that Marjorie was unemployed to a trouble- 
some and distressing extent, and that there was noth- 
ing in her nature or training to supply, and some- 
thing in their circumstances and relations to prevent 
any adequate use of her energies. With the second 
fact neither of them cared to come to close quarters 
as yet, and neither as yet saw very distinctly how it 
was linked to the first, and that was the steady excess 
of her expenditure over their restricted means. She 
was secretly surprised at her own weakness. Week 
by week and month by month, they were spending all 
his income and eating into that little accumulation of 
capital that had once seemed so sufficient against the 
world. . . . 

And here it has to be told that although Trafford 
knew that Marjorie had been spending too much 
money, he still had no idea of just how much money 
she had spent. She was doing her utmost to come to 
an understanding with him, and at the same time I 
don't explain it, I don't excuse it she was keeping 
back her bills from him, keeping back urgent second 
and third and fourth demands, that she had no 
cheque-book now to stave off even by the most par- 
tial satisfaction. It kept her awake at nights, that 
catastrophic explanation, that all unsuspected by 
Trafford hung over their attempts at mutual elucida- 
tion ; it kept her awake but she could not bring it to 
the speaking point, and she clung, in spite of her own 
intelligence, to a persuasion that after they had got 



THE NEW PHASE 299 

something really settled and defined then it would be 
time enough to broach the particulars of this second 
divergence. . . . 

Talking one's relations over isn't particularly 
easy between husband and wife at any time; we are 
none of us so sure of one another as to risk loose 
phrases or make experiments in expression in mat- 
ters so vital; there is inevitably an excessive caution 
on the one hand and an abnormal sensitiveness to 
hints and implications on the other. Marjorie's bills 
were only an extreme instance of these unavoidable 
suppressions that always occur. Moreover, when 
two people are continuously together, it is amazingly 
hard to know when and where to begin ; where inter- 
course is unbroken it is as a matter of routine being 
constantly interrupted. You cannot broach these 
broad personalities while you are getting up in the 
morning, or over the breakfast-table while you make 
the coffee, or when you meet again after a multitude 
of small events at tea, or in the evening when one is 
rather tired and trivial after the work of the day. 
Then Miss Margharita Trafford permitted no sus- 
tained analysis of life in her presence. She synthe- 
sized things fallaciously, but for the time convincing- 
ly ; she insisted that life wasn't a thing you discussed, 
but pink and soft and jolly, which you crowed at and 
laughed at and addressed as " Goo." Even without 
Margharita there were occasions when the Traffords 
were a forgetfulness to one another. After an ear 
has been pinched or a hand has been run through a 
man's hair, or a pretty bare shoulder kissed, all sorts 
of broader interests lapse into a temporary oblivion. 
They found discussion much more possible when they 
walked together. A walk seemed to take them out of 
the everyday sequence, isolate them from their house- 
hold, abstract them a little from one another. They 



300 MARRIAGE 

set out one extravagant spring Sunday to Great Mis- 
senden, and once in spring also they discovered the 
Waterlow Park. On each occasion they seemed to 
get through an enormous amount of talking. But 
the Great Missenden walk was all mixed up with a 
sweet keen wind, and beech-woods just shot with 
spring green and bursting hedges and the extreme 
earliness of honeysuckle, which Trafford noted for the 
first time, and a clamorous rejoicing of birds. And 
in the Waterlow Park there was a great discussion of 
why the yellow crocus comes before white and purple, 
and the closest examination of the manner in which 
daffodils and narcissi thrust their green noses out of 
the garden beds. Also they found the ugly, ill-serv- 
ed, aggressively propagandist non-alcoholic refresh- 
ment-room in that gracious old house a scandal and 
disappointment, and Trafford scolded at the stupid- 
ity of officialdom that can control so fine a thing so 
ill. 

Though they talked on these walks they were still 
curiously evasive. Indeed, they were afraid of each 
other. They kept falling away from their private 
thoughts and intentions. They generalized, they dis- 
cussed Marriage and George Gissing and Bernard 
Shaw and the suffrage movement and the agitation 
for the reform of the divorce laws. They pursued 
imaginary cases into distant thickets of contingency 
remotely far from the personal issues between 
them. 



One day came an incident that Marjorie found 
wonderfully illuminating. Trafford had a fit of rage. 
Stung by an unexpected irritation, he forgot him- 
self, as people say, and swore, and was almost physic- 



THE NEW PHASE 301 

ally violent, and the curious thing was that so he lit 
up things for her as no premeditated attempt of his 
had ever done. 

A copy of the Scientific Bulletin fired the explo- 
sion. He sat down at the breakfast-table with the 
heaviness of a rather overworked and worried man, 
tasted his coffee, tore open a letter and crumpled it 
with his hand, turned to the Bulletin, regarded its 
list of contents with a start, opened it, read for a 
minute, and expressed himself with an extraordinary 
heat of manner in these amazing and unprecedented 
words : 

" Oh ! Damnation and damnation !" 

Then he shied the paper into the corner of the 
room and pushed his plate from him. 

" Damn the whole scheme of things !" he said, and 
met the blank amazement of Marjorie's eye. 

" Behrens !" he said with an air of explanation. 

" Behrens ?" she echoed with a note of inquiry. 

"He's doing my stuff!" 

He sat darkling for a time and then hit the table 
with his fist so hard that the breakfast things seemed 
to jump together to Marjorie's infinite amazement. 
" I can't stand it !" he said. 

She waited some moments. " I don't understand," 
she began. " What has he done ?" 

" Oh !" was Trafford's answer. He got up, re- 
covered the crumpled paper and stood reading. 
" Fool and' thief," he said. 

Marjorie was amazed beyond measure. She felt 
aa though she had been effaced from Trafford's life. 
" Ugh !" he cried and slapped back the Bulletin into 
the corner with quite needless violence. He became 
aware of Marjorie again. 

" He's doing my work," he said. 



302 MARRIAGE 

And then as if he completed the explanation: 
" And I've got to be in Croydon by half-past ten to 
lecture to a pack of spinsters and duffers, because 
they're too stupid to get the stuff from books. It's 
all in books, every bit of it." 

He paused and went on in tonesi of unendurable 
wrong. " It isn't as though he was doing it right. 
He isn't. He can't. He's a fool. He's a clever, 
greedy, dishonest fool with a twist. Oh ! the pile, the 
big Pile of silly muddled technicalities he's invented 
already ! The solemn mess he's making of it ! And 
there he is, I can't get ahead of him, I can't get at 
him. I've got no time. I've got no room or leisure 
to swing my mind in ! Oh, curse these engagements, 
curse all these silly fretting entanglements of lecture 
and article! I never get the time, I can't get the 
time, I can't get my mind clear! I'm worried! I'm 
badgered ! And meanwhile Behrens !" 

" Is he discovering what you want to discover?" 

" Behrens! A T o/ He's going through the breaches 
I made. He's guessing out what I meant to do. And 
he's getting it set out all wrong, misleading ter- 
minology, distinctions made in the wrong place. 
Oh, the fool he is !" 

" But afterwards " 

" Afterwards I may spend my life removing the 
obstacles he's made. He'll be established and I 
shan't. You don't know anything of these things. 
You don't understand." 

She didn't. Her next question showed as much. 
" Will it affect your F.R.S.?" she asked. 

" Oh ! that 's safe enough, and it doesn't matter 
anyhow. The F.R.S. ! Confound the silly little F.R.S. ! 
As if that mattered. It's seeing all my great open- 
ings misused. It's seeing all I might be doing. This 
brings it all home to me. Don't you understandj 



THE NEW PHASE 303 

Marjorie? Will you never understand? I'm getting 
away from all that! I'm being hustled away by all 
this work, this silly everyday work to get money. 
Don't you see that unless I can have time for thought 
and research, life is just darkness to me? I've made 
myself master of that stuff. I had at any rate. No 
one can do what I can do there. And when I find my- 
self oh, shut out, shut out ! I come near raving. As 
I think of it I want to rave again." He paused. 
Then with a swift transition: "I suppose I'd better 
eat some breakfast. Is that egg boiled?" 

She gave him an egg, brought his coffee, put 
things before him, seated herself at the table. For a 
little while he ate in silence. Then he cursed Behrens. 

" Look here !" she said. " Bad as I am, you've 
got to reason with me, Rag. I didn't know all this. I 
didn't understand ... I don't know what to do." 

"What is there to do?" 

" I've got to do something. I'm beginning to see 
things. It's just as though everything had become 
clear suddenly." She was weeping. " Oh, my dear ! 
I want to help you. I have so wanted to help you. 
Always. And it's come to this !" 

" But it's not your fault. I didn't mean that. 
It's it's in the nature of things." 

" It's my fault." 

"It's not your fault." 

" It is." " 

" Confound it, Marjorie. iWhen I swear at Beh- 
rens I'm not swearing at you." 

" It's my fault. All this is my fault. I'm eating 
you up. What's the good of your pretending, Rag. 
You know it is. Oh ! When I married you I meant 
to make you happy, I had no thought but to make 
you happy, to give myself to you, my body, my 
brains, everything, to make life beautiful for you " 



304 MARRIAGE 

" Well, haven't you?" He thrust out a hand she 
did not take. 

" I've broken your back," she said. 

An unwonted resolution came into her face. Her 
lips whitened. " Don't you know, Rag," she said, 

forcing herself to speak " Don't you guess ? 

You don't know half! In that bureau there 

In there! It's stuffed with bills. Unpaid bills." 

She was weeping, with no attempt to wipe the 
streaming tears away ; terror made the expression of 
her wet face almost fierce. "Bills," she repeated. 
" More than a hundred pounds still. Yes ! Now. 
Now!" 

He drew back, stared at her and with no trace of 
personal animus, like one who hears of a common 
disaster, remarked with a quiet emphasis : Oh, 
damn!" 

" I know," she said, " Damn !" and met his eyes. 
There was a long silence between them. She pro- 
duced a handkerchief and wiped her eyes. " That's 
what I amount to," she said. 

" It's your silly upbringing," he said after a 
long pause. 

" And my silly self." 

She stood up, unlocked and opened her littered 
desk, turned and held out the key to him. 

"Why?" he asked. 

" Take it. You gave me a cheque-book of my 
own and a corner of my own, and they they are just 
ambushes against you." 

He shook his head. 

" Take it," said Marjorie with quiet insistence. 

He obeyed. She stood with her eyes on the 
crumpled heap of bills. They were not even tidily 
arranged. That seemed to her now an extreme ag- 
gravation of her offence. 



THE NEW PHASE 305 

" I ought to be sent to the chemist's," she re- 
marked, " as one sends a worthless cat." 

Trafford weighed this proposition soberly for 
some moments. " You're a bother, Marjorie," he 
said with his eyes on the desk; "no end of a bother. 
I'd better have those bills." 

He looked at her, stood up, put his hands on her 
shoulders, drew her to him and kissed her forehead. 
He did it without passion, without tenderness, with 
something like resignation in his manner. She clung 
to him tightly, as though by clinging she could warm 
and soften him. 

" Rag," she whispered ; " all my heart is yours. . 
I want to help you. . . . And this is what I have 
done." 

" I know," he said almost grimly. 

He repeated his kiss. 

Then he seemed to explode again. " Gods !" he 
cried, " look at the clock. I shall miss that Croydon 
lecture !" He pushed her from him. " Where are my 
boots? ..." 



Marjorie spent the forenoon and the earlier part 
of the afternoon repeating and reviewing this con- 
versation. Her mind was full of the long disregarded 
problem of her husband's state of mind. She thought 
with a sympathetic astonishment of his swearing, of 
his startling blow upon the table. She hadn't so far 
known he could swear. But this was the real thing, 
the relief of vehement and destructive words. His 
voice, saying "damnation and damnation," echoed 
and re-echoed in her ears. Somehow she under- 
stood that as she had never understood any sober 
statement of his case. Such women as Marjorie, I 
think, have an altogether keener understanding of 



306 MARRIAGE 

people who have lost control of themselves than they 
have of reasoned cases. Perhaps that is because they 
themselves always reserve something when they state 
a reasoned case. 

She went on to the apprehension of a change in 
him that hitherto she had not permitted herself to 
see a change in his attitude to her. There had been 
a time when she had seemed able without an effort to 
nestle inside his heart. Now she felt distinctly for the 
first time that that hadn't happened. She had instead 
a sense of her embrace sliding over a rather deliber- 
ately contracted exterior. ... Of course he had 
been in a hurry. . . . 

She tried to follow him on his journey to Croy- 
don. Now he'd have just passed out of London 
Bridge. What was he thinking and feeling about her 
in the train? Now he would be going into the place, 
wherever it was, where he gave his lecture. Did he 
think of Behrens and curse her under his breath as he 
entered that tiresome room? . . . 

It seemed part of the prevailing inconvenience of 
life that Daffy should see fit to pay an afternoon call. 

Marjorie heard the sobs and uproar of an ar- 
rested motor, and glanced discreetly from the window 
to discover the dark green car with its green-clad 
chauffeur which now adorned her sister's life, and 
which might under different circumstances, have 
adorned her own. Wilkins his name was Wilkins, his 
hair was sandy and his expression discreet, and he 
afforded material for much quiet humorous observa- 
tion descended smartly and opened the door. Daffy 
appeared 1 in black velvet, with a huge black fur muff, 
and an air of being unaware that there were such 
things as windows in the world. 

It was just four, and the cook-general, who ought 
to have been now in her housemaid's phase, was still 



THE NEW PHASE 307 

upstairs divesting herself of her more culinary char- 
acteristics. Marjorie opened the door. 

" Hullo, old Daffy!" she said. 

" Hullo, old Madge !" and there was an exchange 
of sisterly kisses and a mutual inspection. 

" Nothing wrong?" asked Daffy, surveying her. 

" Wrong?" 

" You look pale and tired about the eyes," said 
Daffy, leading the way into the drawing-room. 
" Thought you might be a bit off it, that's all. No 
offence, Madge." 

" I'm all right," said Marjorie, getting her back 
to the light. " Want a holiday, perhaps. How's 
every one?" 

" All right. We're off to Lake Garda next week. 
This new play has taken it out of Will tremendously. 
He wants a rest and fresh surroundings. It's to be the 
biggest piece of work he's done so far, and it's 
straining him. And people worry him here; recep- 
tions, first nights, dinners, speeches. He's so neat, 
you know, in his speeches. . . But it wastes him. He 
wants to get away. How's Rag?" 

" Busy." 

" Lecturing?" 

" And his Research of course." 

" Oh! of course. How's the Babe?" 

" Just in. Come up and see the little beast, 
Daffy ! It is getting so pretty, and it talks " 

Margharita dominated intercourse for a time. 
She was one of those tactful infants who exactly re- 
semble their fathers and exactly resemble their 
mothers, and have a charm and individuality quite 
distinctly their own, and she was now beginning to 
converse with startling enterprise and intelligence. 

" Big, big, bog," she said at the sight of Daffy. 

" Remembers you," said Marjorie. 



308 MARRIAGE 

" Bog ! Go ta-ta !" said Margharita. 

" There!" said Marjorie, and May, the nurse in 
the background, smiled unlimited appreciation. 

" Bably," said Margharita. 

" That's herself! " said Marjorie, falling on her 
knees. " She talks like this all day. Oh de sweetums, 
den! Was it? 

Daffy made amiable gestures and canary-like 
noises with her lips, and Margharita responded jovi- 
ally. 

" You darling!" cried Marjorie, " you delight of 
life," kneeling by the cot and giving the crowing, 
healthy little mite a passionate hug. 

" It's really the nicest of babies," Daffy conceded, 
and reflected. . . . 

" I don't know what I should do with a kiddy," 
said Daffy, as the infant worship came to an end; 
" I'm really glad we haven't one yet. He'd love 
it, I know. But it would be a burthen in some ways. 
They are a tie. As he says, the next few years means 
so much for him. Of course, here his reputation is 
immense, and he's known in Germany, and there are 
translations into Russian ; but he's still got to conquer 
America, and he isn't really well known yet in France. 
They read him, of course, and buy him in America, 
but they're restive. Oh! I do so wish they'd give 
him the Nobel prize, Madge, and have done with it! 
It would settle everything. Still, as he says, we mustn't 
think of that yet, anyhow. He isn't venerable 
enough. It's doubtful, he thinks, that they would give 
the Nobel prize to any humorist now that Mark 
Twain is dead'. Mark Twain was different, you see, 
because of the German Emperor and all that white 
hair and everything." 

At this point Margharita discovered that the con- 
versation had drifted away from herself, and it was 



THE NEW PHASE 309 

only when they got downstairs again that Daffy 
could resume the thread of Magnet's career, which 
had evidently become the predominant interest in her 
life. She brought out all the worst elements of Mar- 
jorie's nature and their sisterly relationship. There 
were moments when it became nakedly apparent that 
she was magnifying Magnet to belittle Trafford. 
Marjorie did her best to counter-brag. She played 
her chief card in the F. R. S. 

" They always ask Will to the Royal Society 
Dinner," threw out Daffy ; " but of course he can't 
always go. He's asked to so many things." 

Five years earlier Marjorie would have kicked 
her shins for that. 

Instead she asked pointedly, offensively, if Mag- 
net was any balder. 

" He's not really bald," said Daffy unruffled, and 
went on to discuss the advisability of a second motor 
car purely for town use. " I tell him I don't want 
it," said Daffy, ** but he's frightfully keen upon get- 
ting one." 

8 

When Daffy had at last gone Marjorie went back 
into Trafford's study and stood on the hearthrug 
regarding its appointments, with something of the air 
of one who awakens from a dream. She had devel- 
oped a new, appalling thought. Was Daffy really a 
better wife than herself? It was dawning upon Mar- 
jorie that she hadn't been doing the right thing by 
her husband, and she was as surprised as if it had been 
suddenly brought home to her that she was neglect- 
ing Margharita. This was her husband's study 
and it showed just a little dusty in the afternoon sun- 
shine, and everything about it denied the pretensions 
of serene sustained work that she had always made to 



310 MARRIAGE 

herself. Here were the crumpled galley proofs of his 
science notes ; here were unanswered letters. There, 
she dare not touch them, were computations, under a 
glass paper-weight. What did they amount to now? 
On the table under the window were back numbers of 
the Scientific Bulletin in a rather untidy pile, and on 
the footstool by the armchair she had been accustomed 
to sit at his feet when he stayed at home to work, and 
look into the fire, and watch him furtively, and some- 
times give way to an overmastering tenderness and 
make love to him. The thought of Magnet, pam- 
pered, fenced around, revered in his industrious tire- 
some repetitions, variations, dramatizations and so 
forth of the half-dozen dry little old jokes which the 
British public accepted as his characteristic offering 
and rewarded him for so highly, contrasted vividly 
with her new realization of Trafford's thankless work 
and worried face. 

And she loved him, she loved him so. She told 
herself in the presence of all these facts, and without 
a shadow of doubt in her mind that all she wanted in 
the world was to make him happy. 

It occurred to her as a rather drastic means to 
this end that she might commit suicide. 

She had already gone some way in the compo- 
sition of a touching letter of farewell to him, contain- 
ing a luminous analysis of her own defects, before her 
common-sense swept away this imaginative exercise. 

Meanwhile, as if it had been working at her prob- 
lem all the time that this exciting farewell epistle had 
occupied the foreground of her thoughts, her natural 
lucidity emerged with the manifest conclusion that she 
had to alter her way of living. She had been extra- 
ordinarily regardless of him, she only began to see 
that, and now she had to take up the problem of his 
necessities. Her self-examination now that it had 



THE NEW PHASE 311 

begun was thorough. She had always told herself 
before that she had made a most wonderful and beau- 
tiful little home for him. But had she made it for 
him? Had he as a matter of fact ever wanted it, ex- 
cept that he was glad to have it through her? No 
doubt it had given him delight and happiness, it had 
been a marvellous little casket of love for them, but 
how far did that outweigh the burthen and limitation 
it had imposed upon him? She had always assumed 
he was beyond measure grateful to her for his home, 
in spite of all her bills, but was he? It was like stick- 
ing a knife into herself to ask that, but she was now in 
a phase heroic enough for the task was he? She 
had always seen herself as the giver of bounties ; great- 
est bounty of all was Margharita. She had faced 
pains and terrors and the shadow of death to give 
him Margharita. Now with Daffy's illuminating 
conversation in her mind, she could turn the light 
upon a haunting doubt that had been lurking in the 
darkness for a long time. Had he really so greatly 
wanted Margharita? Had she ever troubled to get 
to the bottom of that before ? Hadn't she as a mat- 
ter of fact wanted Margharita ten thousand times 
more than he had done ? Hadn't she in effect imposed 
Margharita upon him, as she had imposed her dis- 
tinctive and delightful home upon him, regardlessly, 
because these things were the natural and legitimate 
developments of herself? 

These things were not his ends. 

Had she hitherto ever really cared what his ends 
might be? 

A phrase she had heard abundantly enough in 
current feminist discussion recurred to her mind, 
" the economic dependence of women," and now for 
the first time it was charged with meaning. She had 
imposed these things upon him not because she loved 



312 MARRIAGE 

him, but because these things that were the expan- 
sions and consequences of her love for him were only 
obtainable through him. A woman gives herself to a 
man out of love, and remains clinging parasitically to 
him out of necessity. Was there no way of evading 
that necessity ? 

For a time she entertained dreams of marvellous 
social reconstructions. Suppose the community kept 
all its women, suppose all property in homes and 
furnishings and children vested in them! That was 
Marjorie's version of that idea of the Endowment of 
Womanhood which has been creeping into contem- 
porary thought during the last two decades. Then 
every woman would be a Princess to the man she 
loved. . . he became more definitely personal. Sup- 
pose she herself was rich, then she could play the 
Princess to Trafford ; she could have him free, unen- 
cumbered, happy and her lover! Then, indeed, her 
gifts would be gifts, and all her instincts and motives 
would but crown his unhampered life ! She could not 
go on from that idea, she lapsed into a golden reverie, 
from which she was roused by the clock striking five. 

In half an hour perhaps TrafFord would be home 
again. She could at least be so much of a princess as 
to make his home sweet for his home-coming. There 
should be tea in here, where callers did not trouble. 
She glanced at an empty copper vase. It ached. 
There was no light in the room. There would be just 
time to dash out into High Street and buy some 
flowers for it before he came. . . 

9 

Spring and a renewed and deepened love for her 
husband were in Marjorie's blood. Her mind worked 
rapidly during the next few days, and presently she 



THE NEW PHASE 313 

found herself clearly decided upon her course of 
action. She had to pull herself together and help 
him, and if that meant a Spartan and strenuous way 
of living, then manifestly she must be Spartan and 
strenuous. She must put an end once for all to her 
recurrent domestic deficits, and since this could only 
be done by getting rid of May, she must get rid of 
May and mind the child herself. (Every day, thank 
Heaven! Margharita became more intelligent, more 
manageable, and more interesting.) Then she must 
also make a far more systematic and thorough study 
of domestic economy than she had hitherto done, and 
run the shopping and housekeeping on severer lines ; 
she bought fruit carelessly, they had far too many 
joints ; she never seemed able to restrain herself when 
it came to flowers. And in the evenings, which would 
necessarily be very frequently lonely evenings if 
Trafford's researches were to go on, she would type- 
write, and either acquire great speed at that or learn 
shorthand, and so save Trafford's present expenditure 
on a typist. That unfortunately would mean buy- 
ing a typewriter. 

She found one afternoon in a twopenny book-box, 
with which she was trying to allay her craving for 
purchases, a tattered little pamphlet entitled : " Pro- 
posals for the Establishment of an Order of Sa- 
murai," which fell in very exactly with her mood. 
The title " dated" ; it carried her mind back to her 
middle girlhood and the defeats of Kuropatki and the 
futile earnest phase in English thought which fol- 
lowed the Boer War. The order was to be a sort of 
self-appointed' nobility serving the world. It shone 
with the light of a generous dawn, but cast, I fear, 
the shadow of the prig. It's end was the Agenda 
Club. . . .She read and ceased to read and dreamt. 



314 MARRIAGE 

The project unfolded the picture of a new method 
of conduct to her, austere, yet picturesque and richly 
noble. These Samurai, it was intimated, were to lead 
lives of hard discipline and high effort, under self- 
imposed rule and restraint. They were to stand a 
little apart from the excitements and temptations of 
everyday life, to eat sparingly, drink water, resort 
greatly to self-criticism and self-examination, and 
harden their spirits by severe and dangerous exercises. 
They were to dress simply, work hard, and be the 
conscious and deliberate salt of the world. They 
were to walk among mountains. Incidentally, great 
power was to be given them. Such systematic effort 
and self-control as this, seemed to Marjorie to give 
just all she wasn't and needed to be, to save her life 
and Trafford's from a common disaster. . . . 

It particularly appealed to her that they were to 
walk among mountains. . . . 

But it is hard to make a change in the colour of 
one's life amidst the routine one has already estab- 
lished about oneself, in the house that is grooved by 
one's weaknesses, amidst hangings and ornaments 
living and breathing with the life of an antagonistic 
and yet insidiously congenial ideal. A great desire 
came upon Marjorie to go away with Trafford for a 
time, out of their everyday life into strange and cool 
and spacious surroundings. She wanted to leave 
London and its shops, and the home and the move- 
ments and the callers and rivalries, and even dimpled 
little Margharita's insistent claims, and get free and 
think. It was the first invasion of their lives by this 
conception, a conception that was ever afterwards to 
leave them altogether, of retreat and reconstruction. 
She knelt upon the white sheepskin hearthrug at 
Trafford's feet one night, and told him of her desire. 
He, too, was tired of his work and his vexations, and 



THE NEW PHASE 315 

ripe for this suggestion of an altered life. The Eas- 
ter holiday was approaching, and nearly twenty un- 
encumbered days. Mrs. Trafford, they knew, would 
come into the house, meanwhile, and care for Mar- 
gharita. They would go away somewhere together 
and walk, no luggage but a couple of knapsacks, no 
hotel but some homely village inn. They would be in 
the air all day, until they were saturated with sweet 
air and spirit of clean restraints. They would plan 
out their new rule, concentrate their aims. " And I 
could think," said Trafford, " of this new work I 
can't begin here. I might make some notes." 
Presently came the question of where the great walk 
should be. Manifestly, it must be among mountains, 
manifestly, and Marjorie's eye saw those mountains 
with snow upon their summits and cold glaciers on 
their flanks. Could they get to Switzerland? If they 
travelled second class throughout, and took the 
cheaper way, as Samurai should? . . . 

10 

That holiday seemed to Marjorie as if they had 
found a lost and forgotten piece of honeymoon. She 
had that same sense of fresh beginnings that had made 
their first walk in Italian Switzerland so unforget- 
table. She was filled with the happiness of recovering 
Trafford when he had seemed to be slipping from her. 
All day they talked of their outlook, and how they 
might economise away the need of his extra work, 
and so release him for his search again. For the first 
time he talked of his work to her, and gave her some 
intimation of its scope and quality. He became en- 
thusiastic with the sudden invention of experimental 
devices, so that it seemed to her almost worth while if 
instead of going on they bolted back, he to his labora- 



316 MARRIAGE 

tory and she to her nursery, and so at once inaugu- 
rated the new regime. But they went on, to finish 
the holiday out. And the delight of being together 
again with unfettered hours of association ! They re- 
discovered each other, the same and a little changed. 
If their emotions were less bright and intense, their 
interest was far wider and deeper. 

The season was too early for high passes, and the 
weather was changeable. They started from Fri- 
bourg and walked to Thun and then back to Bulle, 
and so to Bultigen, Saanen, Montbovon and the Lake 
of Geneva. They had rain several days, the sweet, 
soft, windless mountain rain that seemed so tolerable 
to those who are accustomed to the hard and driven 
downpours of England, and in places they found 
mud and receding snow ; the inns were at their home- 
liest, and none the worse for that, and there were days 
of spring sunshine when a multitude of minute and 
delightful flowers came out as it seemed to meet them 
it was impossible to suppose so great a concourse 
universal and spread in a scented carpet before 
their straying feet. The fruit trees in the valleys were 
powdered with blossom, and the new grass seemed 
rather green-tinted sunlight than merely green. And 
they walked with a sort of stout leisureliness, knap- 
sacks well-hung and cloaks about them, with their 
faces fresh and bright under the bracing weather, 
and their lungs deep charged with mountain air, 
talking of the new austerer life that was now begin- 
ning. With great snow-capped mountains in the back- 
ground, streaming precipices overhead, and a sward 
of flowers to go upon, that strenuous prospect was 
altogether delightful. They went as it pleased them, 
making detours into valleys, coming back upon their 
steps. The interludes of hot, bright April sunshine 
made them indolent, and they would loiter and halt 



THE NEW PHASE 317 

where some rock or wall invited, and sit basking like 
happy animals, talking very little, for long hours to- 
gether. Trafford seemed to have forgotten all the 
strain and disappointment of the past two years, to 
be amazed but in no wise incredulous at this enormous 
change in her and in their outlook; it filled her with 
a passion of pride and high resolve to think that so 
she could recover and uplift him. 

He was now very deeply in love with her again. 
He talked indeed of his research, but so that it might 
interest her, and when he thought alone, he thought, 
not of it, but of her, making again the old discoveries, 
his intense delight in the quality of her voice, his joy 
in a certain indescribable gallantry in her bearing. 
He pitied all men whose wives could not carry them- 
selves, and whose voices failed and broke under the 
things they had to say. And then again there was 
the way she moved her arms, the way her hands took 
hold of things, the alert lucidity of her eyes, and then 
that faint, soft shadow of a smile upon her lips when 
she walked thinking or observant, all unaware that he 
was watching her. 

It rained in the morning of their eleventh day and 
then gave way to warmth and sunshine, so that they 
arrived at Les Avants in the afternoon a little muddy 
and rather hot. At one of the tables under the trees 
outside the Grand Hotel was a small group of people 
dressed in the remarkable and imposing costume 
which still in those days distinguished the motorist. 
They turned from their tea to a more or less frank in- 
spection of the Traffords, and suddenly broke out 
into cries of recognition and welcome. Solomonson 
for the most part brown leather emerged with 
extended hands, and behind him, nestling in the midst 
of immense and costly furs, appeared the kindly sal- 
ience and brightness of his Lady's face. " Good luck !" 



318 MARRIAGE 

cried Solomonson. " Good luck ! Come and have tea 
with us ! But this is a happy encounter !" 

" We're dirty but so healthy !" cried Marjorie, 
saluting Lady Solomonson. 

" You look, oh ! splendidly well," that Lady re- 
sponded. 

" We've been walking." 

" With just that knapsack!" 

" It's been glorious." 

" But the courage !" said Lady Solomonson, and 
did not add, " the tragic hardship !" though her tone 
conveyed it. She had all the unquestioning belief of 
her race in the sanity of comfort. She had ingrained 
in her the most definite ideas of man's position and 
woman's, and that any one, man or woman, should 
walk in mud except under dire necessity, was outside 
the range of her philosophy. She thought Marjorie's 
thick boots and short skirts quite the most appalling 
feminine costume she had ever seen. She saw only a 
ruined complexion and damaged womanhood in Mar- 
jorie's rain-washed, sun-bit cheek. Her benevolent 
heart rebelled at the spectacle. It was dreadful, she 
thought, that nice young people like the Traffords 
should have come to this. 

The rest of the party were now informally intro- 
duced. They were all very splendid and disconcert- 
ingly free from mud. One was Christabel Morrison, 
the actress, a graceful figure in a green baize coat 
and brown fur, who looked ever so much more charm- 
ing than her innumerable postcards and illustrated- 
paper portraits would have led one to expect; her 
neighbour was Solomonson's cousin Lee, the organizer 
of the Theatre Syndicate, a brown-eyed, attenuated, 
quick-minded little man with an accent that struck 
Trafford as being on the whole rather Dutch, and the 
third lady was Lady Solomonson's sister, Mrs. Lee. 



THE NEW PHASE 319 

It appeared they were all staying at Lee's villa above 
Vevey, part of an amusing assembly of people who 
were either vividly rich or even more vividly clever, 
an accumulation which the Traffords in the course of 
the next twenty minutes were three times invited, with 
an increasing appreciation and earnestness, to join. 

From the first our two young people were not in- 
disposed to do so. For eleven days they had main- 
tained their duologue at the very highest level ; seven 
days remained to them before they must go back to 
begin the hard new life in England, and there was 
something very attractive they did not for a moment 
seek to discover the elements of that attractiveness 
in this proposal of five or six days of luxurious indo- 
lence above the lake, a sort of farewell to the worldly 
side of worldly things, before they set forth upon 
the high and narrow path they had resolved to tread. 

" But we've got no clothes," cried Marjorie, " no 
clothes at all ! .We've these hobnail boots and a pair 
each of heelless slippers." 

" My dear !" cried Lady Solomonson in real dis- 
tress, and as much aside as circumstances permitted, 
" my dear ! My sister can manage all that !" Her 
voice fell to earnest undertones. " We can really 
manage all that. The house is packed with things. 
We'll come to dinner in fancy dress. And Scott, my 
maid, is so clever." 

" But really!" said Marjorie. 

" My dear !" said Lady Solomonson. " Every- 
thing." And she changed places with Lee in order to 
be perfectly confidential and explicit. " Rachel !" 
she cried, and summoned her sister for confirmatory 
assurances. . . . 

" But my husband !" Marjorie became audible. 

" We've long Persian robes," said Mrs. Lee, with 



320 MARRIAGE 

a glance of undisguised appraisement. " He'll be 
splendid. He'll look like a Soldan. . . . 

The rest of the company forced a hectic conversa- 
tion in order not to seem to listen, and presently Lady 
Solomonson and her sister were triumphant. They 
packed Marjorie into the motor car, and Trafford 
and Solomonson returned to Vevey by train and 
thence up to the villa by a hired automobile. 



They didn't go outside the magic confines of the 
Lees' villa for three days, and when they did they were 
stillsurroundedby their host's service and possessions ; 
they made an excursion to Chillon in his motor-cars, 
and went in his motor-boat to lunch with the May- 
nards in their lake-side villa close to Geneva. During 
all that time they seemed lifted off the common earth 
into a world of fine fabrics, agreeable sounds, 
noiseless unlimited service, and ample untroubled 
living. It had an effect of enchantment, and the long 
healthy arduous journey thither seemed a tale of in- 
credible effort amidst these sunny excesses. The 
weather had the whim to be serenely fine, sunshine 
like summer and the bluest of skies shone above the 
white wall and the ilex thickets and cypresses that 
bounded them in from the great world of crowded 
homes and sous and small necessities. And through 
the texture of it all for Trafford ran a thread of 
curious new suggestion. An intermittent discussion 
of economics and socialism was going on between 
himself and Solomonson and an agreeable little stam- 
mering man in brown named Minter, who walked up 
in the afternoon from Vevey, he professed to be 
writing a novel during the earlier half of the day. 
Minter displayed the keenest appreciation of every- 



THE NEW PHASE 321 

thing in his entertainment, and blinked cheerfully 
and expressed opinions of the extremest socialistic and 
anarchistic flavour to an accompaniment of grateful 
self-indulgence. " Your port-wine is wonderful, Lee," 
he would say, sipping it. " A terrible retribution will 
fall upon you some day for all this." 

The villa had been designed by Lee to please his 
wife, and if it was neither very beautiful nor very dig- 
nified, it was at any rate very pretty and amusing. 
It might have been built by a Parisian dressmaker 
in the chateauesque style. It was of greyish-white 
stone, with a roof of tiles. It had little balconies and 
acutely roofed turrets, and almost burlesque but- 
tresses, pierced by doors and gates ; and sun-trap log- 
gias, as pleasantly casual as the bows and embroider- 
ies of a woman's dress ; and its central hall, with an 
impluvium that had nothing to do with rain-water, 
and its dining-room, to which one ascended from this 
hall between pillars up five broad steps, were entirely 
irrelevant to all its exterior features. Unobtrusive 
men-servants in grey with scarlet facings hovered 
service ably. 

From the little terrace, all set with orange-trees 
in tubs, one could see, through the branches and stems 
of evergreens and over a foreground of budding, start- 
ing vineyard, the clustering roofs of Vevey below, an 
agglomeration veiled ever so thinly in the morning 
by a cobweb of wood smoke, against the blue back- 
ground of lake with its winged sailing-boats, and som- 
bre Alpine distances. Minter made it all significant 
by a wave of the hand. " All this," he said, and of 
the crowded work-a-day life below, " all that." 

" All this," with its rich litter of stuffs and orna- 
ments, its fine profusion, its delicacies of flower and 
food and furniture, its frequent inconsecutive pleas- 
ures, its noiseless, ready service, was remarkably 



322 MARRIAGE 

novel and yet remarkably familiar to Trafford. For 
a time he could not understand this undertone of fa- 
miliarity, and then a sunlit group of hangings in one 
of the small rooms that looked out upon the lake took 
his mind back to his own dining-room, and the little 
inadequate, but decidedly good, Bokhara embroidery 
that dominated it like a flag, that lit it, and now lit 
his understanding, like a confessed desire. Of course, 
Mrs. Lee happy woman! was doing just every- 
thing that Marjorie would have loved to do. Mar- 
jorie had never confessed as much, perhaps she had 
never understood as much, but now in the pres- 
ence of Mrs. Lee's aesthetic exuberances, Trafford at 
least understood. He surveyed the little room, whose 
harmonies he had at first simply taken for granted, 
noted the lustre-ware that answered to the gleaming 
Persian tiles, the inspiration of a metallic thread in 
the hangings, and the exquisite choice of the dead- 
ened paint upon the woodwork, and realized for the 
first time how little aimless extravagance can be, and 
all the timid, obstinately insurgent artistry that 
troubled his wife. He stepped through the open win- 
dow into a little loggia, and stared unseeingly over 
glittering, dark-green leaves to the mysteries of dis- 
tance in the great masses above St. Gingolph, and it 
seemed for the first time that perhaps in his thoughts 
he had done his wife a wrong. He had judged her 
fickle, impulsive, erratic, perhaps merely because 
her mind followed a different process from his, be- 
cause while he went upon the lines of constructive 
truth, her guide was a more immediate and instinctive 
sense of beauty. 

He was very much alive to her now, and deeply in 
love with her. He had reached Les Avants with all 
his sense of their discordance clean washed and 
walked out of his mind, by rain and sun and a flow of 



THE NEW PHASE 323 

high resolutions, and the brotherly swing of their 
strides together. They had come to the Lee's villa, 
mud-splashed, air-sweet comrades, all unaware of the 
subtle differences of atmosphere they had to en- 
counter. They had no suspicion that it was only 
about half of each other that had fraternized. Now 
here they were in a company that was not only 
altogether alien to their former mood, but extreme- 
ly interesting and exciting and closely akin to the la- 
tent factors in Mar j orie's composition. Their hostess 
and her sister had the keen, quick aesthetic sensibili- 
ties of their race, with all that freedom of reading 
and enfranchisement of mind which is the lot of the 
Western women. Lee had an immense indulgent 
affection for his wife, he regarded her arrangements 
and exploits with an admiration that was almost 
American. And Mrs. Lee's imagination had run 
loose in pursuit of beautiful and remarkable people 
and splendours rather than harmonies of line and 
colour. Lee, like Solomonson, had that inex- 
plicable alchemy of mind which distils gold from 
the commerce of the world ("All this," said Minter 
to Trafford, " is an exhalation from all that") ; he 
accumulated wealth as one grows a beard, and found 
his interest in his uxorious satisfactions, and so Mrs. 
Lee, with her bright watchful eyes, quick impulsive 
movements and instinctive command had the utmost 
freedom to realize her ideals. 

In the world at large Lee and Solomonson seemed 
both a little short and a little stout, and a little too 
black and bright for their entirely conventional cloth- 
ing, but for the dinner and evening of the villa they 
were now, out of consideration for Trafford, at their 
ease, and far more dignified in Oriental robes. Traf- 
ford was accommodated with a long, black, delicately 
embroidered garment that reached to his feet, and 



324 MARRIAGE 

suited something upstanding and fine in his bearing; 
Minter, who had stayed on from an afternoon call, 
was gorgeous in Chinese embroidery. The rest of the 
men clung boldly or bashfully to evening dress. . . . 

On the evening of his arrival Trafford, bathed and 
robed, found the rest of the men assembling about an 
open wood fire in the smaller hall at the foot of the 
main staircase. Lee was still upstairs, and Solomon- 
son, with a new grace of gesture begotten by his cos- 
tume, made the necessary introductions ; a little man 
with fine-cut features and a Galway accent was Rex 
the playwright ; a tall, grey-haired, clean-shaven man 
was Bright from the New York Central Museum ; and 
a bearded giant with a roof of red hair and a remote 
eye was Radlett Barns, the great portrait-painter, 
who consents to paint your portrait for posterity as 
the King confers a knighthood. These were presently 
joined by Lee and Pacey, the blond-haired musician, 
and Mottersham, whose patents and inventions con- 
trol electric lighting and heating all over the world, 
and then, with the men duly gathered and exoectant, 
the women came down the wide staircase. 

The staircase had been planned and lit for these 
effects, and Mrs. Lee meant to make the most of her 
new discovery. Her voice could be heard in the un- 
seen corridor above arranging the descent : " You go 
first, dear. Will you go with Christabel ?" The con- 
versation about the fire checked and ceased with the 
sound of voices above and the faint rustle of skirts. 
Then came Christabel Morrison, her slender grace 
beautifully contrasted with the fuller beauties of that 
great lady of the stage, Marion Rufus. Lady Solo- 
monson descended confidently in a group of three, 
with Lady Mottersham and sharp-tongued little Mrs. 
Rex, all very rich and splendid. After a brief interval 
their hostess preceded Marjorie, and was so much of 



THE NEW PHASE 325 

an artist that she had dressed herself merely as a foil 
to this new creation. She wore black and scarlet, 
that made the white face and bright eyes under her 
sombre hair seem the face of an inspiring spirit. A 
step behind her and to the right of her came Mar- 
jorie, tall and wonderful, as if she were the queen of 
earth and sunshine, swathed barbarically in gold and 
ruddy brown, and with her abundant hair bound back 
by a fillet of bloodstones and gold. Radlett Barns 
exclaimed at the sight of her. She was full of the 
manifest consciousness of dignity as she descended, 
quite conscious and quite unembarrassed; two bor- 
rowed golden circlets glittered on her shining arm, 
and a thin chain of gold and garnets broke the con- 
trast of the warm, sun-touched neck above, with the 
unsullied skin below. 

She sought and met her husband's astonishment 
with the faintest, remotest of smiles. It seemed to him 
that never before had he appreciated her beauty. 
His daily companion had become this splendour in 
the sky. She came close by him with hand extended to 
greet Sir Philip Mottersham. He was sensible of 
the glow of her, as it were of a scented aura about 
her. He had a first full intimation of the cult and 
worship of woman and the magnificence of women, 
old as the Mediterranean and its goddesses, and al- 
together novel to his mind. . . . 

Christabel Morrison found him a pleasant but not 
very entertaining or exciting neighbor at the dinner- 
table, and was relieved when the time came for her to 
turn an ear to the artistic compliments of Radlett 
Barns. But Trafford was too interested and amused 
by the general effect of the dinner to devote himself 
to the rather heavy business of really exhilarating 
Christabel. He didn't give his mind to her. He found 
the transformation of Sir Rupert into a turbanned 



326 MARRIAGE 

Oriental who might have come out of a picture by 
Carpaccio, gently stimulating and altogether delight- 
ful. His attention returned again and again to that 
genial swarthiness. Mrs. Lee on his left lived in her 
eyes, and didn't so much talk to him as rattle her mind 
at him almost absent-mindedly, as one might dangle 
keys at a baby while one talked to its mother. Yet it 
was evident she liked the look of him. Her glance 
went from his face to his robe, and up and down the 
table, at the bright dresses, the shining arms, the 
glass and light and silver. She asked him to tell her 
just where he had tramped and just what he had seen, 
and he had scarcely begun answering her question 
before her thoughts flew off to three trophies of china 
and silver, struggling groups of china boys bearing 
up great silver shells of fruit and flowers that stood 
down the centre of the table. " What do you think 
of my chubby boys ?" she asked. " They're German 
work. They came from a show at Diisseldorf last 
week. Ben saw I liked them, and sent back for them 
secretly, and here they are! I thought they might 
be too colourless. But are they?" 

" No," said Trafford, " they're just cool. Under 
that glow of fruit. Is this salt-cellar English cut 
glass ?" 

" Old Dutch," said Mrs. Lee. " Isn't it jolly?" 
She embarked with a roving eye upon the story of 
her Dutch glass, which was abundant and admirable, 
and broke off abruptly to say, " Your wife is won- 
derful." 

" Her hair goes back," she said, '" like music. 
You know what I mean a sort of easy rhythm. You 
don't mind my praising your wife ?" 

Trafford said he didn't. 

" And there's a sort of dignity about her. All my 
life, Mr. Trafford, I've wanted to be tall. It stopped 
my growth." 



THE NEW PHASE 327 

She glanced off at a tangent. " Tell me, Mr. 
Trafford," she asked, " was your wife beautiful like 
this when you married her? I mean of course she 
was a beautiful girl and adorable and all that; but 
wasn't she just a slender thing?" 

She paused, but if she had a habit of asking dis- 
concerting questions she did not at any rate insist 
upon answers, and she went on to confess that she be- 
lieved she would be a happier woman poor than rich 
" not that Ben isn't all he should be" but that then 
she would have been a fashionable dressmaker. 
"People want help," she said, "so much more help 
than they get. They go about with themselves 
what was it Mr. Radlett Barns said the other night 
oh!-^-like people leading horses they daren't ride. 
I think he says such good things at times, don't you ? 
So wonderful to be clever in two ways like that. 
Just look now at your wife now I mean, that they've 
drawn that peacock-coloured curtain behind* her. 
My brother-in-law has been telling me you keep 
the most wonderful and precious secrets locked up in 
your breast, that you know how to make gold and 
diamonds and all sorts of things. If I did, I should 
make them." 

She pounced suddenly upon Rex at her left with 
questions about the Keltic Renascence, was it still 
going on or what? and Trafford was at liberty for 
a time to enjoy the bright effects about him, the 
shadowed profile and black hair of Christabel to the 
right of him, and the coruscating refractions and 
reflections of Lady Solomonson across the white and 
silver and ivory and blossom of the table. Then Mrs. 
Lee dragged him into a sudden conflict with Rex, b$ 
saying abruptly 

" Of course, Mr. Trafford wouldn't believe that." 

He looked perhaps a little lost. 



328 MARRIAGE 

" I was telling Mrs. Lee," said Rex, " that I don't 
believe there's any economy of human toil in 
machinery whatever. I mean that the machine itself 
really embodies all the toil it seems to save, toil that 
went to the making of it and preparing it and get- 
ting coal for it. ..." 



Next morning they found their hostess at break- 
fast in the dining-room and now the sun was stream- 
ing through a high triple window that had been cur- 
tained overnight, and they looked out through clean, 
bright plate-glass upon mountains half-dissolved in a 
luminous mist, and a mist-veiled lake below. Great 
stone jars upon the terrace bore a blaze of urged and 
early blossom, and beyond were cypresses. Their 
hostess presided at one of two round tables, at a side 
table various breakfast dishes kept warm over spirit 
lamps, and two men servants dispensed tea and cof- 
fee. In the bay of the window was a fruit table, 
with piled fruit-plates and finger-bowls. 

Mrs. Lee waved a welcoming hand, and drew 
Marjorie to a seat beside her. Rex was consuming 
trout and Christabel peaches, and Solomonson, all 
his overnight Orientalism abandoned, was in out- 
spoken tweeds and quite under the impression that he 
was interested in golf. Trafford got frizzled bacon 
for Marjorie and himself, and dropped into a desul- 
tory conversation, chiefly sustained by Christabel, 
about the peculiarly exalting effect of beautiful scen- 
ery on Christabel's mind. Mrs. Lee was as usual 
distraught, and kept glancing towards the steps that 
led up from the hall. Lady Solomonson appeared 
with a rustle in a wrapper of pink Chinese silk. " I 
came down after all," she said. " I lay in bed weigh- 



THE NEW PHASE 329 

ing rolls and coffee and relaxed muscles against your 
English breakfast downstairs. And suddenly I re- 
membered your little sausages!" 

She sat down with a distribution of handker- 
chief, bag, letters, a gold fountain pen and such-like 
equipments, and Trafford got her some of the coveted 
delicacies. Mrs. Lee suddenly cried out, "Here 
they come! Here they come!" and simultaneously 
the hall resonated with children's voices and the yap- 
ping of a Skye terrier. 

Then a gay little procession appeared ascending 
the steps. First came a small but princely little boy 
of three, with a ruddy face and curly black hair, 
behind him was a slender, rather awkward girl of 
perhaps eleven, and a sturdier daughter of Israel of 
nine. A nurse in artistic purple followed, listening 
inattentively to some private whisperings of a 
knickerbockered young man of five, and then came 
another purple-robed nurse against contingencies, 
and then a nurse of a different, white-clad, and 
more elaborately costumed sort, carrying a sumptu- 
ous baby of eight or nine months. " Ah ! the dar- 
lings!" cried Christabel, springing up quite beauti- 
fully, and Lady Solomonson echoed the cry. The 
procession broke against the tables and split about 
the breakfast party. The small boy in petticoats 
made a confident rush for Marjorie, Christabel set 
herself to fascinate his elder brother, the young 
woman of eleven scrutinized Trafford with specula- 
tive interest and edged towards him coyly, and Mrs. 
Lee interviewed her youngest born. The amiable 
inanities suitable to the occasion had scarcely begun 
before a violent clapping of hands announced the 
appearance of Lee. 

It was Lee's custom, Mrs. Lee told Marjorie over 
her massively robed baby, to get up very early and 



330 MARRIAGE 

work on rolls and coffee; he never breakfasted nor 
joined them until the children came. All of them 
rushed to him for their morning kiss, and it seem- 
ed to Trafford that Lee at least was an altogether 
happy creature as he accepted the demonstrative 
salutations of this struggling, elbowing armful of 
offspring, and emerged at last like a man from a 
dive, flushed and ruffled and smiling, to wish his adult 
guests good morning. 

" Come upstairs with us, daddy," cried the chil- 
dren, tugging at him. " Come upstairs !" 

Mrs. Lee ran her eye about her table and rose. 
" It's the children's hour," she said to Marjorie. 
" You don't I hope, mind children?" 

" But," said Trafford incredulous, and with a 
friendly arm about his admirer, " is this tall young 
woman yours?" 

The child shot him a glance of passionate appre- 
ciation for this scrap of flattery. 

" We began young," said Mrs. Lee, with eyes of 
uncritical pride for the ungainly one, and smiled at 
her husband. 

" Upstairs," cried the boy of five and the girl of 
nine. " Upstairs." 

"May we come?" asked Marjorie. 

" May we all come ?" asked Christabel, determined 
to be in the movement. 

Rex strolled towards the cigars, with disentangle- 
ment obviously in his mind. 

"Do you really care?" asked Mrs. Lee. "You 
know, I'm so proud of their nursery. Would you 
care ? Always I go up at this time." 

" I've my little nursery, too," said Marjorie. 

"Of course!" cried Mrs. Lee, "I forgot. Of 
course;" and overwhelmed Marjorie with inquiries as 
she followed her husband. Every one joined the 



THE NEW PHASE 881 

nurseryward procession except Rex, who left himself 
behind with an air of inadvertency, and escaped to 
the terrace and a cigar. . . . 

It was a wonderful nursery, a suite of three bed- 
rooms, a green and white, well-lit schoolroom and a 
vast playroom, and hovering about the passage Traf- 
ford remarked a third purple nurse and a very 
efficient and serious-looking Swiss governess. The 
schoolroom and the nursery displayed a triumph of 
judicious shopping and arrangement, the best of 
German and French and English things had been 
blended into a harmony at once hygienic and peda- 
gogic and humanly charming. For once Marjorie 
had to admire the spending of another woman, and 
admit to herself that even she could not have done 
better with the money. 

There were clever little desks for the elder children 
to work at, adjustable desks scientifically lit so that 
they benefited hands and shoulders and eyes ; there 
were artistically coloured and artistically arranged 
pictures, and a little library held all the best of Lang 
and Lucas, rare good things like " Uncle Lubin," 
Maurice Baring's story of " Forget-me-not," " John- 
ny Crow's Garden," "The Bad Child's Book of 
Beasts," animal books and bird books, costume books 
and story books, colour books and rhyme books, 
abundant, yet every one intelligently chosen, no cost- 
ly meretricious printed rubbish such as silly Gentile 
mothers buy. Then in the great nursery, with its 
cork carpet on which any toy would 1 stand or run, 
was an abundance of admirable possessions and shelv- 
ing for everything, and great fat cloth elephants 
to ride, and go-carts, and hooks for a swing. Mar- 
jorie's quick eye saw, and she admired effusively and 
envied secretly, and Mrs. Lee appreciated her ap- 
preciation. A skirmishing romp of the middle chil- 



332 MARRIAGE 

dren and Lee went on about the two of them, and 
Trafford was led off by his admirer into a cubby- 
house in one corner (with real glass windows made 
to open) and the muslin curtains were drawn while 
he was shown a secret under vows. Lady Solomonson 
discovered some soldiers, and was presently on her 
knees in a corner with the five-year old boy. 

" These are like my Teddy's," she was saying. 
" My Billy has some of these." 

Trafford emerged from the cubby-house, which 
was perhaps a little cramped for him, and surveyed 
the room, with his admirer lugging at his arm un- 
heeded, and whispering : " Come back with me." 

Of course this was the clue to Lee and Solomon- 
son. How extremely happy Lee appeared to be! 
Enormous vistas of dark philoprogenitive parents 
and healthy little Jews and Jewesses seemed to open 
out to Trafford, hygienically reared, exquisitely 
trained and educated. And he and Marjorie had 
just one little daughter with a much poorer edu- 
cational outlook. She had no cloth elephant to ride, 
no elaborate cubby-house to get into, only a half- 
dozen picture books or so, and later she wouldn't 
when she needed it get that linguistic Swiss. 

He wasn't above the normal human vanity of 
esteeming his own race and type the best, and certain 
vulgar aspects of what nowadays one calls Eugenics 
crossed his mind. 

13 

During those few crowded days of unfamiliar 
living Trafford accumulated a vast confused mass 
of thoughts and impressions. He realized acutely 
the enormous gulf between his attitudes towards 
women and those of his host and Solomonson and 
indeed of all the other men. It had never occurred to 



THE NEW PHASE 333 

him before that there was any other relationship 
possible between a modern woman and a modern man 
but a frank comradeship and perfect knowledge, help- 
fulness, and honesty. That had been the continual 
implication of his mother's life, and of all that he 
had respected in the thought and writing of his time. 
But not one of these men in their place with the 
possible exception of Minter, who remained brilliant 
but ambiguous believed anything of the sort. It 
necessarily involved in practice a share of hardship 
for women, and it seemed fundamental to them that 
women should have no hardship. He sought for a 
word, and hung between chivalry and orientalism. He 
inclined towards chivalry. Their women were lifted 
a little off the cold ground of responsibility. Charm 
was their obligation. " A beautiful woman should 1 
be beautifully dressed," said Radlett Barns in the 
course of the discussion of a contemporary por- 
trait painter. Lee nodded to endorse an obvious 
truth. " But she ought to dress herself," said Barns. 
" It ought to be herself to the points of the old lace 
chosen and assimilated. It's just through not being 
that, that so many rich women are detestable. 
Heaps of acquisition. Caddis-women. . , ." 

Trafford ceased to listen, he helped himself to a 
cigar and pinched its end and lit it, while his mind 
went off to gnaw at : "A beautiful woman should be 
beautifully dressed," as a dog retires with a bone. 
He couldn't escape from its shining truth, and withal 
it was devastating to all the purposes of his life. 

He rejected the word orientalism; what he was 
dealing with here was chivalry. ** All this," was in- 
deed, undter the thinnest of disguises, the castle and 
the pavilion, and Lee and Solomonson were valiant 
knights, who entered the lists not indeed with spear 
and shield but with prospectus and ingenious enter- 



334 MARRIAGE 

prise, who drew cheques instead of swords for their 
ladies' honour, who held " all that" in fee and sub- 
jection that these exquisite and wonderful beings 
should flower in rich perfection. All these women 
lived in a magic security and abundance, far above 
the mire and adventure of the world; their knights 
went upon quests for them and returned with villas 
and pictures and diamonds and historical pearls. 
And not one of them all was so beautiful a being as 
his Marjorie, whom he made his squaw, whom he ex- 
pected to aid and follow him, and suffer uncom- 
plainingly the rough services of the common life. 
Not one was half so beautiful as Marjorie, nor half 
so sweet and wonderful. . . . 

If such thoughts came in Lee's villa, they return- 
ed with redoubled force when Trafford found himself 
packed painfully with Marjorie in the night train to 
Paris. His head ached with the rattle and suffoca- 
tion of the train, and he knew hers must ache more. 
The windows of the compartment and the door were 
all closed, the litigious little commercial traveller in 
shiny grey had insisted upon that, there was no cor- 
ner seat either for Marjorie or himself, the dim big 
package over her head swayed threateningly. The 
green shade over the light kept opening with the 
vibration of the train, the pallid old gentleman 
with the beard had twisted himself into a ghastly 
resemblance to a broken-necked corpse, and pressed 
his knees hard and stiffly against Trafford, and the 
small, sniffing, bow-legged little boy beside the rusty 
widow woman in the corner smelt mysteriously and 
penetratingly of Roquefort cheese. For the seven- 
teenth time the little commercial traveller jumped 
up with an unbecoming expletive, and pulled the 
shade over the light, and the silent young man in the 
fourth corner stirred and readjusted his legs. 



THE NEW PHASE 335 

For a time until the crack of light overhead had 
widened again every one became a dark head^-dangling 
outline. . . . 

He watched the dim shape before him and noted 
the weary droop of her pose. He wished he had 
brought water. He was intolerably thirsty, and his 
thirst gave him the measure of hers. This jolting 
foetid compartment was a horrible place for her, an 
intolerably horrible place. And she was standing it, 
for all her manifest suffering, with infinite gallantry 
and patience. What a gallant soul indeed she was ! 
Whatever else she did she never failed to rise to a 
challenge. Her very extravagance that had tried 
their lives so sorely was perhaps just one aspect of 
that same quality. It is so easy to be saving if one is 
timid ; so hard if one is unaccustomed to fear. How 
beautiful she had shone at times in the lights and 
glitter of that house behind there, and now she was 
back in her weather-stained tweeds again, like a shin- 
ing sword thrust back into a rusty old sheath. 

Was it fair that she should come back into the 
sheath because of this passion of his for a vast 
inexhaustible research? 

He had never asked himself before if it was fair 
to assume she would follow his purpose and his for- 
tunes. He had taken that for granted. And she 
too had taken that for granted, which was so gener- 
ously splendid of her. All her disloyalties had been 
unintentional, indeed almost instinctive, breaches of 
her subordination to this aim which was his alone. 
These breaches he realized had been the reality of 
her nature fighting against her profoundest resolu- 
tions. 

He wondered what Lee must think of this sort of 
married life. How ugly and selfish it must seem from 
that point of view. 



336 MARRIAGE 

He perceived for the first time the fundamental 
incongruity of Marjorie's position, she was made to 
shine, elaborately prepared and trained to shine, 
desiring keenly to shine, and then imprisoned and 
hidden in the faded obscurity of a small, poor home. 
How conspicuously, how extremely he must be want- 
ing in just that sort of chivalry in which Lee ex- 
celled ! Those business men lived for their women to 
an extent he had hitherto scarcely dreamt of do- 
ing. . . . 

His want of chivalry was beyond dispute. And 
was there not also an extraordinary egotism in this 
concentration upon his own purposes, a self-esteem, 
a vanity? Had her life no rights? Suppose now he 
were to give her two years, three years perhaps of 
his life altogether. Or even four. Was it too much 
to grudge her four? Solomonson had been at his 
old theme with him, a theme the little man had never 
relinquished since their friendship first began years 
ago, possibilities of a business alliance and the appli- 
cation of a mind of exceptional freshness and pen- 
etration to industrial development. Why shouldn't 
that be tried ? Why not " make money" for a brief 
strenuous time, and then come back, when Marjorie's 
pride and comfort were secure? . . . 

(Poor dear, how weary she looked!) 

He wondered how much more remained of this 
appalling night. It would have made so little dif- 
ference if they had taken the day train and travelled 
first-class. Wasn't she indeed entitled to travel first- 
class? Pictures of the immense spaciousness, the 
softness, cleanliness and dignity of first-class com- 
partments appeared in his mind. . . . 

He would have looked at his watch, but to get at 
it would mean disturbing the silent young man on 
his left. 



THE NEW PHASE 337 

Outside in the corridor there broke out a noisy 
dispute about a missing coupon, a dispute in that 
wonderful language that is known to the facetious as 
entente cordiale, between an Englishman and the 
conductor of the train. 



In Paris there was a dispute with an extortionate 
cabman, and the crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven 
was rough and bitterly cold. They were both ill. 
They reached home very dirty and weary, and among 
the pile of letters and papers on Trafford's desk 
was a big bundle of Science Note proofs, and two 
letters from Croydon and Pinner to alter the hours 
of his lectures for various plausible and irritating 
reasons. 

The little passage looked very small and rather 
bare as the door shut behind them, and the worn 
places that had begun to be conspicuous during the 
last six months, and which they had forgotten during 
the Swiss holiday, reasserted themselves. The dining- 
room, after spacious rooms flooded with sunshine, 
betrayed how dark it was, and how small. Those 
Bokhara embroideries that had once shone so splen- 
did, now, after Mrs. Lee's rich and unlimited harmo- 
nies, seemed skimpy and insufficient, mere loin-cloths 
for the artistic nakedness of the home. They felt, 
too, they were beginning to find out their post-im- 
pressionist picture. They had not remembered it as 
nearly so crude as it now appeared. The hole a 
flying coal had burnt in the unevenly faded dark-blue 
carpet looked larger than it had ever done before, 
and was indeed the only thing that didn't appear 
faded and shrunken. 



338 MARRIAGE 

15 

The atmosphere of the Lees' villa had disturbed 
Marjorie's feelings and ideas even more than it had 
Trafford's. She came back struggling to recover 
those high resolves that had seemed so secure when 
they had walked down to Les Avantes. There was a 
curiously tormenting memory of that vast, admirable 
nursery, and the princely procession of children that 
would not leave her mind. No effort of her reason 
could reconcile her to the inferiority of Margharita's 
equipment. She had a detestable craving for a uni- 
form for May. But May was going. . . . 

But indeed she was not so sure that May was 
going. 

She was no longer buoyantly well, she was full of 
indefinable apprehensions of weakness and failure. 
She struggled to control an insurgence of emotions 
that rose out of the deeps of her being. She had now, 
she knew, to take on her share of the burden, to 
become one of the Samurai, to show her love no longer 
as a demand but as a service. Yet from day to day 
she procrastinated under the shadow of apprehended 
things ; she f orebore to dismiss May, to buy that 
second-hand typewriter she needed, to take any ir- 
revocable step towards the realization of the new way 
of living. She tried to think away her fears, but they 
would not leave her. She felt that Trafford watched 
her pale face with a furtive solicitude and wondered 
at her hesitations ; she tried in vain to seem cheerful 
and careless in his presence, with an anxiety, with 
premonitions that grew daily. 

There was no need to worry him unduly. . . . 

But soon the matter was beyond all doubting. 
One night she gathered her courage together sudden- 
ly and came down into his study in her dressing- 



THE NEW PHASE 339 

gown with her hair about her shoulders. She opened 
the door and her heart failed her. 

" Rag," she whispered. 

" Yes," he said busily from his desk, without 
looking round. 

" I want to speak to you," she answered, and came 
slowly, and stood beside him silently. 

" Well, old Marjorie?" he said presently, drawing 
a little intricate pattern in the corner of his blot- 
ting paper, and wondering whether this was a matter 
of five pounds or ten. 

" I meant so well," she said and caught herself 
back into silence again. 

He started at the thought, at a depth and mean- 
ing in her voice, turned his chair about to look 
at her, and discovered she was weeping and chok- 
ing noiselessly. He stood up close to her, moving 
very slowly and silently, his eyes full of this new sur- 
mise, and now without word or gesture from her he 
knew his thought was right. " My dear," he 
whispered. 

She turned her face from him. " I meant so 
well," she sobbed. " My dear ! I meant so well." 
Still with an averted face her arms came out to him 
in a desperate, unreasoning appeal for love. He 
took her and held her close to him. " Never mind, 
dear," he said. Don't mind." Her passion now was 
unconstrained. " I thought " he began, and left 
the thing unsaid. 

"But your work," she said; "your research?" 

"I must give up research," he said. 

" Oh, my dearest !" 

" I must give up research," he repeated. " I've 
been seeing it for days. Clearer and clearer. This 
dear, just settles things. Even as we were coming 



340 MARRIAGE 

home in the train I was making up my mind. At 
Yevey I was talking to Solomonson." 

" My dear," she whispered, clinging to him. 

" I talked to Solomonson. He had ideas a 
proposal." 

" No," she said. 

" Yes," he said. " I've left the thing too long." 

He repeated. " I must give up research for 
years. I ought to have done it long before." 

" I had meant so well," she said. " I meant to 
work. I meant to deny myself. . . ." 

" I'm glad," he whispered. " Glad ! Why should 
you weep?" It seemed nothing to him then, that so 
he should take a long farewell to the rare, sweet air 
of that wonderland his mind had loved so dearly. All 
he remembered was that Marjorie was very dear to 
him, very dear to him, and that all her being was now 
calling out for him and his strength. " I had thought 
anyhow of giving up research," he repeated. " This 
merely decides. It happens to decide. I love you, 
dear. I put my research at your feet. Gladly. This 
is the end, and I do not care, my dear, at all. I 
do not care at all seeing I have you. . . ." 

He stood beside her for a moment, and then sat 
down again, sideways, upon his chair. 

" It isn't you, my dear, or me," he said, " but life 
that beats us that beautiful, irrational mother. . . 
Life does not care for research or knowledge, but 
only for life. Oh ! the world has to go on yet for tens 
of thousands of years before before we are free for 
that. I've got to fight as other men fight. . . ." 

He thought in silence for a time, oddly regardless 
of her. " But if it was not you," he said, staring at 
the fireplace with knitted brows, " if I did not love 
you. . . .Thank God, I love you, dear! Thank God, 
our children are love children ! I want to live to my 



THE NEW PHASE 341 

finger-tips, but if I didn't love you oh! love you! 
.then I think now I'd be glad I'd be glad, I think, 
to cheat life of her victory." 

" Oh, my dear !" she cried, and clung weeping to 
him, and caught at him and sat herself upon his 
knees, and put her arms about his head, and kissed 
him passionately with tear-salt lips, with her hair 
falling upon his face. 

" My dear," she whispered. . . . 



So soon as Trafford could spare an afternoon 
amidst his crowded engagements he went to talk to 
Solomonson, who was now back in London. " Solo- 
monson," he said, " you were talking about rubber at 
Vevey." 

" I remember," said Solomonson with a note of 
welcome. 

" I've thought it over." 

" I thought you would." 

" I've thought things over. I'm going to give up 
my professorship and science generally, and come 
into business if that is what you are meaning." 

Solomonson turned his paper-weight round very 
carefully before replying. Then he said : " You 
mustn't give up your professorship yet, Trafford. 
For the rest I'm glad." 

He reflected, and then his bright eyes glanced up 
at Trafford. " I knew," he said, " you would." 

" I didn't," said Trafford. " Things have hap- 
pened since." 

" Something was bound to happen. You're too 
good for what it gave you. I didn't talk to you 
out there for nothing. I saw things. . . . Let's go 



342 MARRIAGE 

into the other room, and smoke and talk it over." He 
stood up as he spoke. 

" I thought you would," he repeated, leading the 
way. " I knew you would. You see, one has to. 
You can't get out of it." 

" It was all very well before you were married," 
said Solomonson, stopping short to say it, " but 
when a man's married he's got to think. He can't 
go on devoting himself to his art and his science and 
all that not if he's married anything worth having. 
No. Oh, I understand. He's got to look about him, 
and forget the distant prospect for a bit. I saw 
you'd come to it. / came to it. Had to. I had 
ambitions just as you have. Fve always had an 
inclination to do a bit of research on my own. I 
like it, you know. Oh! I could have done things. 
I'm sure I could have done things. I'm not a born 

money-maker. But ." He became very close 

and confidential. " It's^ them. 

You said good-bye to science for a bit when you 
flopped me down on that old croquet-lawn, Trafford." 
He went off to reminiscences. " Lord, how we went 
over! No more aviation for me, Trafford!" 

He arranged chairs, and produced cigars. " After 
all this of course it's interesting. Once you get 
into the movement of it, it takes hold of you. It's a 
game." 

" I've thought over all you said," Trafford be- 
gan, using premeditated phrases. "Bluntly I want 
three thousand a year, and I don't make eight hun- 
dred. It's come home to me. I'm going to have 
another child." 

Solomonson gestulated a congratulation. 

" All the same, I hate dropping research. It's 
stuff I'm made to do. About that, Solomonson, I'm 
almost superstitious. I could say I had a call. . . . 



THE NEW PHASE 343 

It's the maddest state of affairs ! Now that I'm do- 
ing absolutely my best work for mankind, work I 
firmly believe no one else can do, I just manage to 
get six hundred nearly two hundred of my eight 
hundred is my own. What does the world think I 
could do better that would be worth four times as 
much." 

" The world doesn't think anything at all about 
it," said Solomons on. 

"Suppose it did!" 

The thought struck Sir Rupert. He knitted his 
brows and looked hard obliquely at the smoke of his 
cigar. " Oh, it won't," he said, rejecting a disagree- 
able idea. " There isn't any world not in that sense. 
That's the mistake you make, Trafford." 

" It's not what your work is worth," he explained. 
" It's what your advantages can get for you. Peo- 
ple are always going about supposing just what 
you suppose that people ought to get paid in pro- 
portion to the good they do. It's forgetting what 
the world is, to do that. Very likely some day civili- 
zation will get to that, but it hasn't got to it yet. It 
isn't going to get to it for hundreds and hundreds of 
years." 

His manner became confidential. " Civilization's 
just a fight, Trafford just as savagery is a fight, 
and being a wild beast is a fight, only you have 
paddeder gloves on and there's more rules. We aren't 
out for everybody, we're out for ourselves and a few 
friends perhaps within limits. It's no good hurry- 
ing ahead and pretending civilization's something 
else, when it isn't. That's where all these socialists 
and people come a howler. Oh, 7 know the Socialists. 
I see 'em at my wife's At Homes. They come along 
with the literary people and the artists' wives and the 
actors and actresses, and none of them take much 



344 MARRIAGE 

account of me because I'm just a business man an(l 
rather dark and short, and so I get a chance of look- 
ing at them from the side that isn't on show while 
the other's turned to the women, and they're just as 
fighting as the rest of us, only they humbug more and 
they don't seem to me to have a decent respect for 
any of the common rules. And that's about what it 
all comes to, Trafford." 

Sir Rupert paused, and Trafford was about to 
speak when the former resumed again, his voice very 
earnest, his eyes shining with purpose. He liked 
Trafford, and he was doing his utmost to make a 
convincing confession of the faith that was in him. 
" It's when it comes to the women," said Sir Rupert, 
" that one finds it out. That's where you've found it 
out. You say, I'm going to devote my life to the 
service of Humanity in general. You'll find Human- 
ity in particular, in the shape of all the fine, beauti- 
ful, delightful and desirable women you come across, 
preferring a narrower turn of devotion. See? That's 
all. Caeteris paribus, of course. That's what I 
found out, and that's what you've found out, and 
that's what everybody with any sense in his head 
finds out, and there you are." 

" You put it graphically," said Trafford. 

" I feel it graphically. I may be all sorts of 
things, but I do know a fact when I see it. I'm here 
with a few things I want and a woman or so I have 
and want to keep, and the kids upstairs, bless 'em! 
and I'm in league with all the others who want the 
same sort of things. Against any one or anything 
that upsets us. We stand by the law and each other, 
and that's what it all amounts to. That's as far 
as my patch of Humanity goes. Humanity at large ! 
Humanity be blowed ! Look at it ! It isn't that I'm 
hostile to Humanity, mind you, but that I'm not dis- 



THE STEW PHASE 345 

posed to go under as I should do if I didn't say that. 
So I say; it. And that's about all it is, and there you 
are. 

He regarded Trafford over his cigar, drawing 
fiercely at it for some moments. Then seeing Traf- 
ford on the point of speaking, he snatched it from 
his lips, demanded silence by waving it at his hearer, 
and went on. 

" I say all this in order to dispose of any idea 
that you can keep up the open-minded tell-every- 
body-every-thing scientific attitude if you come into 
business. You can't. Put business in two words 
and what is it? Keeping something from somebody 
else, and making him pay for it " 

" Oh, look here !" protested Trafford. " That's 
not the whole of business." 

" There's making him want it, of course, adver- 
tisement and all that, but that falls under making 
him pay for it, really." 

" But a business man organizes public services, 
consolidates, economizes." 

Sir Rupert made his mouth look very wide by 
sucking in the corners. " Incidentally," he said, 
and added after a judicious pause: " Sometimes. . . 
I thought we were talking of making money." 

" Go on," said Trafford. 

" You set me thinking," said Solomonson. " It's 
the thing I always like about you. I tell you, 
Trafford, I don't believe that the majority of people 
who make money help civilization forward any more 
than the smoke that comes out of the engine helps 
the train forward. If you put it to me, I don't. I've 
got no illusions of that sort. They're about as much 
help as fat. They accumulate because things hap- 
pen to be arranged so." 



346 MARRIAGE 

" Things will be arranged better some day." 

" They aren't arranged better now. Grip that ! 
Now, it's a sort of paradox. If you've got big gifts 
and you choose to help forward the world, if you 
choose to tell all you know and give away everything 
you can do in the way of work, you've got to give up 
the ideas of wealth and security, and that means fine 
women and children. You've got to be a deprived 
sort of man. 'All right,' you say, 'That's me !' But 
how about your wife being a deprived sort of woman? 
Eh? That's where it gets you! And meanwhile, 
you know, while you make your sacrifices and do your 
researches, there'll be little mean sharp active beasts 
making money all over you like maggots on a cheese. 
And if everybody who'd got gifts and altruistic ideas 
gave themselves up to it, then evidently only the 
mean and greedy lot would breed and have the glory. 

They'd get everything. Every blessed thing. 
There wouldn't be an option they didn't hold. And the 
other chaps would produce the art and the science 
and the literature, as far as the men who'd got hold 
of things would let 'em, and perish out of the 
earth altogether. . . . 
There you are ! Still, that's how things are made. ." 

" But it isn't worth it. It isn't worth extinguish- 
ing oneself in order to make a world for those others, 
anyhow. Them and their children. Is it? Eh? 
It's like building a temple for flies to buzz in. ... 
There is such a thing as a personal side to Eugenics, 
you know." 

Solomonson reflected over the end of his cigar. 
" It isn't good enough," he concluded. 

" You're infernally right," said Trafford. 

" Very well," said Solomonson, " and now we can 
get to business." 



THE NEW PHASE 347 

17 

The immediate business was the systematic exploi- 
tation of the fact that Trafford had worked out the 
problem of synthesizing indiarubber. He had done 
so with an entire indifference to the commercial pos- 
sibilities of the case, because he had been irritated by 
the enormous publicity given to Behrens' assertion 
that he had achieved this long-sought end. Of course 
the production of artificial rubbers and rubber-like 
substances had been one of the activities of the 
synthetic chemist for many years, from the appear- 
ance of Tilden's isoprene rubber onward, and there 
was already a formidable list of collaterals, dimethy- 
butadiene, and so forth, by which the coveted goal 
could be approached. Behrens had boldly added to 
this list as his own a number of variations upon a 
theme of Trafford's, originally designed to settle cer- 
tain curiosities about elasticity. Behrens' products 
were not only more massively rubber-like than any- 
thing that had gone before them, but also extremely 
cheap to produce, and his bold announcement of suc- 
cess had produced a check in rubber sales and wide- 
spread depression in the quiveringly sensitive market 
of plantation shares. Solomonson had consulted 
Trafford about this matter at Vevey, and had heard 
with infinite astonishment that Trafford had already 
roughly prepared and was proposing to complete and 
publish, unpatented and absolutely unprotected, first 
a smashing demonstration of the unsoundness of 
Behrens' claim and then a lucid exposition of just 
what had to be done and what could be done to make 
an indiarubber absolutely indistinguishable from the 
natural product. The business man could not be- 
lieve his ears. 

" My dear chap, positively you mustn't," Solo- 



348 MARRIAGE 

monson had screamed, and he had opened his fingers 
and humped his shoulders and for all his public 
school and university training lapsed undisguisedly 
into the Oriental. " Don't you see all you are throw- 
ing away?" he squealed. 

" I suppose it's our quality to throw such things 
away," said Trafford, when at last Solomonson's 
point of view became clear to him. They had em- 
barked upon a long rambling discussion of that issue 
of publication, a discussion they were now taking 
up again. " When men dropped that idea of con- 
cealing knowledge, alchemist gave place to chemist," 
said Trafford, " and all that is worth having in mod- 
ern life, all that makes it better and safer and more 
hopeful than the ancient life, began." 

" My dear fellow," said Solomonson, "I know, I 
know. But to give away the synthesis of rubber! To 
just shove it out of the window into the street ! Gare 
I'eaul O! And when you could do with so much 
too!". . . . 

Now they resumed the divergent threads of that 
Vevey talk. 

Solomonson had always entertained the wannest 
friendship and admiration for Trafford, and it was 
no new thing that he should desire a business co-oper- 
ation. He had been working for that in the old days 
at Riplings ; he had never altogether let the possibil- 
ity drop out of sight between them in spite of Traf- 
ford's repudiations. He believed himself to be a 
scientific man turned 1 to business, but indeed his whole 
passion was for organization and finance. He knew 
he could do everything but originate, and in Traf- 
ford he recognized just that rare combination of an 
obstinate and penetrating simplicity with construc- 
tive power which is the essential blend in the making 
of great intellectual initiatives. To Trafford belong- 



THE NEW PHASE 349 

ed the secret of novel and unsuspected solutions; 
what were fixed barriers and unsurmountable condi- 
tions to trained investigators and commonplace minds, 
would yield to his gift of magic inquiry. He could 
startle the accepted error into self-betrayal. Other 
men might play the game of business infinitely better 
than he Solomonson knew, indeed, quite well that 
he himself could play the game infinitely better than 
Trafford but it rested with Trafford by right de- 
vine of genius to alter the rules. If only he could be 
induced to alter the rules secretly, unostentatiously, 
on a business footing, instead of making catastrophic 
plunges into publicity! And everything that had 
made Trafford up to the day of his marriage was 
antagonistic to such strategic reservations. The 
servant of science has as such no concern with person- 
al consequences ; his business is the steady, relent- 
less clarification of knowledge. The human affairs 
he changes, the wealth he makes or destroys, are no 
concern of his ; once these things weigh with him, 
become primary, he has lost his honour as a scientific 
man. 

" But you must think of consequences," Solomon- 
son had cried during those intermittent talks at 
Vevey. " Here you are, shying this cheap synthetic 
rubber of yours into the world for it's bound to be 
cheap ! any one can see that like a bomb into a mar- 
ket-place. What's the good of saying you don't care 
about the market-place, that your business is just 
to make bombs and drop them out of the window? 
You smash up things just the same. Why! you'll 
ruin hundreds and thousands of people, people living 
on rubber shares, people working in plantations, old, 
inadaptable workers in rubber works. . . ." 

Sir Rupert was now still a little incredulous of 
Trafford's change of purpose, and for a time argued 



350 MARRIAGE 

conceded points. Then slowly he came to the con- 
ditions and methods of the new relationship. He 
sketched out a scheme of co-operation and under- 
standings between his firm and Trafford, between 
them both and his associated group in the city. 

Behrens was to have rope and produce his slump 
in plantation shares, then Trafford was to publish 
his criticism of Behrens, reserving only that catalytic 
process which was his own originality, the process 
that was to convert the inert, theoretically correct 
synthetic rubber, with a mysterious difference in the 
quality of its phases, into the real right thing. With 
Behrens exploded, plantation shares would recover, 
and while their friends in the city manipulated that, 
Trafford would resign his professorship and engage 
himself to an ostentatious promotion syndicate for 
the investigation of synthetic rubber. His discovery 
would follow immediately the group had cleared itself 
of plantation shares ; indeed he could begin planning 
the necessary works forthwith ; the large scale opera- 
tions in the process were to be protected as far as 
possible by patents, but its essential feature, the 
addition of a specific catalytic agent, could be safely 
dealt with as a secret process. 

" I hate secrecy," said Trafford. 

" Business," interjected Solomonson, and went on 
with his exposition of the relative advantages of 
secrecy and patent rights. It was all a matter of 
just how many people you had to trust. As that 
number increased, the more and more advisable did 
it become to put your cards on the table and risk the 
complex uncertain protection of the patent law. 
They went into elaborate calculations, clerks were 
called upon to hunt up facts and prices, and the table 
was presently littered with waste arithmetic. 



THE NEW PHASE 351 

" I believe we can do the stuff at tenpence a 
pound," said Solomonson, leaning back in his chair 
at last, and rattling his fountain pen between his 
teeth, " so soon, that is, as we deal in quantity. Ten- 
pence! We can lower the price and spread the mar- 
ket, sixpence by sixpence. In the end there won't 
be any more plantations. Have to grow tea. . . .1 
say, let's have an invalid dinner of chicken and cham- 
pagne, and go on with this. It's fascinating. You 
can telephone." 

They dined together, and Solomonson on cham- 
pagne rather than chicken. His mind, which had 
never shown an instant's fatigue, began to glow and 
sparkle. This enterprise, he declared, was to be only 
the first of a series of vigorous exploitations. The 
whole thing warmed him. He would rather make ten 
thousand by such developments, than a hundred 
thousand by mere speculation. Trafford had but 
scratched the surface of his mine of knowledge. 
" Let's think of other things," said Sir Rupert Solo- 
monson. " Diamonds ! No ! They've got too many 
tons stowed away already. A diamond now it's an 
absolutely artificial value. At any time a new dis- 
covery and one wild proprietor might bust that show. 
Lord ! diamonds ! Metals ? Of course you've work- 
ed the colloids chiefly. I suppose there's been more 
done in metals and alloys than anywhere. There's 
a lot of other substances. Business has hardly be- 
gun to touch substances yet, you know, Trafford 
flexible glass, for example, and things like that. So 
far we've always taken substances for granted. On 
our side, I mean. It's extraordinary how narrow the 
outlook of business and finance is still. It never 
seems to lead to things, never thinks ahead. In this 
case of rubber, for example " 



352 MARRIAGE 

" When men fight for their own hands and for 
profit and position in the next ten years or so, I 
suppose they tend to become narrow." 

" I suppose they must." Sir Rupert's face glowed 
with a new idea, and his voice dropped a little lower. 
" But what a pull they get, Trafford, if perhaps 
they don't, eh?" 

" No," said Trafford with a smile and a sigh, 
" the other sort gets the pull." 

" Not this time," said Solomonson ; " not with 
you to spot processes and me to figure out the 
cost " he waved his hands to the litter that had 
been removed to a side table "and generally see 
how the business end of things is going. . . ." 



BOOK THE THIRD 

MARJORIE AT LONELY HUT 



CHAPTER THE FIRST 

SUCCESSES 

1 

I FIND it hard to trace the accumulation of moods 
and feelings that led Trafford and Marjorie at last 
to make their extraordinary raid upon Labrador. 
In a week more things happen in the thoughts of 
such a man as Trafford, changes, revocations, de- 
flections, than one can chronicle in the longest of 
novels. I have already in an earlier passage of this 
story sought to give an image of the confused con- 
tent of a modern human mind, but that pool was to 
represent a girl of twenty, and Trafford now was 
a man of nearly thirty-five, and touching life at a 
hundred points for one of the undergraduate Mar- 
jorie's. Perhaps that made him less confused, but it 
certainly made him fuller. Let me attempt therefore 
only the broad outline of his changes of purpose and 
activity until I come to the crucial mood that made 
these two lives a little worth telling about, amidst 
the many thousands of such lives that people are liv- 
ing to-day. . . . 

It took him seven years from his conclusive agree- 
ment with Solomonson to become a rich and influen- 
tial man. It took him only seven years, because al- 
ready by the mere accidents of intellectual interest 
he was in possession of knowledge of the very great- 
est economic importance, and because Solomonson 
was full of that practical loyalty and honesty that 
distinguishes his race. I think that in any case 
Trafford's vigor and subtlety of mind would have 
achieved the prosperity he had found necessary to 

355 



356 MARRIAGE 

himself, but it might have been, under less favorable 
auspices, a much longer and more tortuous struggle. 
Success and security were never so abundant nor so 
easily attained by men with capacity and a sense of 
proportion as they are in the varied and flexible 
world of to-day. We live in an affluent age with a 
nearly incredible continuous fresh increment of power 
pouring in from mechanical invention, and compared 
with our own, most other periods have been meagre 
and anxious and hard-up times. Our problems are 
constantly less the problems of submission and con- 
solation and continually more problems of opportu- 
nity. . . . 

Trafford found the opening campaign, the oper- 
ation with the plantation shares and his explosion 
of Behrens* pretensions extremely uncongenial. It 
left upon his mind a confused series of memories of 
interviews and talks in offices for the most part dingy 
and slovenly, of bales of press-cuttings and blue- 
pencilled financial publications, of unpleasing en- 
counters with a number of bright-eyed, flushed, ex- 
citable and extremely cunning men, of having to be 
reserved and limited in his talk upon all occasions, 
and of all the worst aspects of Solomonson. All 
that part of the new treatment of life that was to 
make him rich gave him sensations as though he had 
ceased to wash himself mentally, until he regretted 
his old life in his laboratory as a traveller in a crowd- 
ed night train among filthy people might regret the 
bathroom he had left behind him. . . . 

But the development of his manufacture of rub- 
ber was an entirely different business, and for a time 
profoundly interesting. It took him into a new as- 
tonishing world, the world of large-scale manufacture 
and industrial organization. The actual planning 
of the works was not in itself anything essentially 



SUCCESSES 357 

new to him. So far as all that went it was scarcely 
more than the problem of arranging an experiment 
upon a huge and permanent scale, and 1 all that quick 
ingenuity, that freshness and directness of mind that 
had made his purely scientific work so admirable had 
ample and agreeable scope. Even the importance of 
cost and economy at every point in the process in- 
volved no system of considerations that was alto- 
gether novel to him. The British investigator knows 
only too well the necessity for husbanded material 
and inexpensive substitutes. But strange factors 
came in, a new region of interest was opened with 
the fact that instead of one experimenter working 
with the alert responsive assistance of Durgan, a mul- 
titude of human beings even in the first drafts of 
his project they numbered already two hundred, be- 
fore the handling and packing could be considered 
had to watch, control, assist or perform every stage 
in a long elaborate synthesis. For the first time in 
his life Trafford encountered the reality of Labour, 
as it is known to the modern producer. 

It will be difficult in the future, when things now 
subtly or widely separated have been brought to- 
gether by the receding perspectives of time, for the 
historian to realize just how completely out of the 
thoughts of such a young man as Trafford the mil- 
lions of people who live and die in organized produc- 
tive industry had been. That vast world of toil and 
weekly anxiety, ill-trained and stupidly directed 
effort and mental and moral feebleness, had been as 
much beyond the living circle of his experience as the 
hosts of Genghis Khan or the social life of the For- 
bidden City. Consider the limitations of his world. 
In all his life hitherto he had never been beyond a 
certain prescribed area of London's (immensities, 
except by the most casual and uninstructive straying. 



358 MARRIAGE 

He knew Chelsea and Kensington and the north bank 
and (as a boy) Battersea Park, and all the strip 
between Kensington and Charing Cross, with some 
scraps of the Strand as far as the Law Courts, a shop 
or so in Tottenham Court Road and fragments about 
the British Museum and Holborn and Regent's Park, 
a range up Edgware Road to Maida Vale, the routes 
west and south-west through Uxbridge and Putney 
to the country, and Wimbledon Common and Putney 
Heath. He had never been on Hampstead Heath nor 
visited the Botanical Gardens nor gone down the 
Thames below London Bridge, nor seen Sydenham 
nor Epping Forest nor the Victoria Park. Take a 
map and blot all he knew and see how vast is the area 
left untouched. All industrial London, all whole- 
sale London, great oceans of human beings fall into 
that excluded area. The homes he knew were com- 
fortable homes, the poor he knew were the parasitic 
and dependent poor of the West, the shops, good 
retail shops, the factories for the most part engaged 
in dressmaking. 

Of course he had been informed 1 about this vast 
rest of London. He knew that as a matter of fact 
it existed, was populous, portentous, puzzling. He 
had heard of "slums," read "Tales of Mean Streets," 
and marvelled in a shallow transitory way at such 
wide wildernesses of life, apparently supported by 
nothing at all in a state of grey, darkling but pro- 
lific discomfort. Like the princess who wondered why 
the people having no bread did not eat cake, he could 
never clearly understand why the population re- 
mained there, did not migrate to more attractive sur- 
roundings. He had discussed the problems of those 
wildernesses as young men do, rather confidently, 
very ignorantly, had dismissed them, recurred to 
them, and forgotten them amidst a press of other 



SUCCESSES 359 

interests, but now it all suddenly became real to him 
with the intensity of a startling and intimate contact. 
He discovered this limitless, unknown, greater Lon- 
don, this London of the majority, as if he had never 
thought of it before. He went out to inspect favour- 
able sites in regions whose very names were unfamiliar 
to him, travelled on dirty little intraurban railway 
lines to hitherto unimagined railway stations, found 
parks, churches, workhouses, institutions, public- 
houses, canals, factories, gas-works, warehouses, 
foundries and sidings, amidst a multitudinous 
dinginess of mean houses, shabby back-yards, and 
ill-kept streets. There seemed to be no limits to this 
thread-bare side of London, it went on northward, 
eastward, and over the Thames southward, for mile 
after mile endlessly. The factories and so forth 
clustered in lines and banks upon the means of com- 
munication, the homes stretched between, and infini- 
tude of parallelograms of grimy boxes with public- 
houses at the corners and churches and chapels in 
odd places, towering over which rose the council 
schools, big, blunt, truncated-looking masses, the 
means to an education as blunt and truncated, born 
of tradition and confused purposes, achieving by ac- 
cident what they achieve at all. 

And about this sordid-looking wilderness went a 
population that seemed at first as sordid. It was in 
no sense a tragic population. But it saw little of 
the sun, felt the wind but rarely, and so had a white, 
dull skin that looked degenerate and ominous to a 
West-end eye. It was not naked nor barefooted, but 
it wore cheap clothes that were tawdry when new, 
and speedily became faded, discoloured, dusty, and 
draggled. It was slovenly and almost wilfully ugly 
in its speech and gestures. And the food it ate was 
rough and coarse if abundant, the eggs it consumed 



360 MARRIAGE 

"tasted" everything "tasted"; its milk, its beer, its 
bread was degraded by base adulterations, its meat 
was hacked red stuff that hung in the dusty air until 
it was sold; east of the city Trafford could find no 
place where by his standards he could get a tolerable 
meal tolerably served. The entertainment of this 
eastern London was jingle, its religion clap-trap, its 
reading feeble and sensational rubbish without kind- 
liness or breadth. And if this great industrial multi- 
tude was neither tortured nor driven nor cruelly 
treated as the slaves and common people of other 
days have been yet it was universally anxious, per- 
petually anxious about urgent small necessities and 
petty dissatisfying things. . . . 

That was the general effect of this new region in 
which he had sought out and found the fortunate 
site for his manufacture of rubber, and against this 
background it was that he had now to encounter a 
crowd of selected individuals, and weld them into a 
harmonious and successful "process." They came out 
from their millions to him, dingy, clumsy, and at 
first it seemed without any individuality. Insensibly 
they took on character, rounded off by unaccustomed 
methods into persons as marked and distinctive as 
any he had known. 

There was Dowd, for instance, the technical as- 
sistant, whom he came to call in his private thoughts 
Dowd the Disinherited. Dowd had seemed a rather 
awkward, potentially insubordinate young man of 
unaccountably extensive and curiously limited at- 
tainments. He had begun his career in a crowded 
home behind and above a baker's shop in Hoxton, he 
had gone as a boy into the works of a Clerkenwell 
electric engineer, and there he had developed that 
craving for knowledge which is so common in poor 
men of the energetic type. He had gone to classes, 



SUCCESSES 361 

read with a sort of fury, feeding his mind on the 
cheap and adulterated instruction of grant-earning 
crammers and on stale, meretricious and ill-chosen 
books; his mental food indeed was the exact par- 
allel of the rough, abundant, cheap and nasty gro- 
ceries and meat that gave the East-ender his spots 
and dyspeptic complexion, the cheap text-books 
were like canned meat and dangerous with intellec- 
tual ptomaines, the rascally, encyclopaedias like 
weak and whitened bread, and Dowd's mental 
complexion, too, was leaden and spotted. Yet es- 
sentially he wasn't, Trafford found, by any means 
bad stuff; where his knowledge had had a chance of 
touching reality it became admirable, and he was full 
of energy in his work and a sort of honest zeal about 
the things of the mind. The two men grew from an 
acute mutual criticism into a mutual respect. 

At first it seemed to Trafford that when he met 
Dowd he was only meeting Dowd, but a time came 
when it seemed to him that in meeting Dowd he was 
meeting all that vast new England outside the range 
of ruling-class dreams, that multitudinous greater 
England, cheaply treated, rather out of health, an- 
gry, energetic and now becoming intelligent and 
critical, that England which organized industrial- 
ism has created. There were nights when he thought 
for hours about Dowd. Other figures grouped them- 
selves round him Markham, the head clerk, the 
quintessence of East-end respectability, who saw to 
the packing; Miss Peckover, an ex-telegraph oper- 
ator, a woman so entirely reliable and unobservant 
that the most betraying phase of the secret process 
could be confidently entrusted to her hands. Behind 
them were clerks, workmen, motor-van men, work- 
girls, a crowd of wage-earners, from amidst which 
some individual would assume temporary importance 



362 MARRIAGE 

and interest by doing something wrong, getting into 
trouble, becoming insubordinate, and having con- 
tributed a little vivid story to Trafford's gathering 
impressions of life, drop back again into undistin- 
guished subordination. 

Dowd became at last entirely representative. 

When first Trafford looked Dowd in the eye, he 
met something of the hostile interest one might en- 
counter in a swordsman ready to begin a duel. There 
was a watchfulness, an immense reserve. They dis- 
cussed the work and the terms of their relationship, 
and all the while Trafford felt there was something 
almost threateningly not mentioned. 

Presently he learnt from a Silvertown employer 
what that concealed aspect was. Dowd was " that 
sort of man who makes trouble," disposed to strike 
rather than not upon a grievance, with a taste for 
open-air meetings, a member, obstinately adherent 
in spite of friendly remonstrance, of the Social Dem- 
ocratic Party. This in spite of his clear duty to a 
wife and two small white knobby children. For a 
time he would not talk to Trafford of anything but 
business Trafford was so manifestly the enemy, not 
to be trusted, the adventurous plutocrat, the ex- 
ploiter when at last Dowd did open out he did so 
defiantly, throwing opinions at Trafford as a mob 
might hurl bricks at windows. At last they achieved 
a sort of friendship and understanding, an amiability 
as it were, in hostility, but never from first to last 
would he talk to Trafford as one gentleman to an- 
other ; between them, and crossed only by flimsy, tem- 
porary bridges, was his sense of incurable grievances 
and fundamental injustice. He seemed incapable of 
forgetting the disadvantages of his birth and upbring- 
ing, the inferiority and disorder of the house that 
sheltered him, the poor food that nourished him, the 



SUCCESSES 363 

deadened air he breathed, the limited leisure, the in- 
adequate books. Implicit in his every word and act 
was the assurance that but for this handicap he 
could have filled Trafford's place, while Trafford 
would certainly have failed in his. 

For all these things Dowd made Trafford re- 
sponsible; he held him to that inexorably. 

" You sweat us," he said, speaking between his 
teeth ; "you limit us, you stifle us, and away there in 
the West-end, you and the women you keep waste 
the plunder." 

Trafford attempted palliation. " After all," he 
said, " it's not me so particularly " 

" But it is," said Dowd. 

" It's the system things go upon." 

" You're the responsible part of it. You have 
freedom, you have power and endless opportunity 

Trafford shrugged his shoulders. 

" It's because your sort wants too much," said 
Dowd, " that my sort hasn't enough." 

" Tell me how to organize things better." 

" Much you'd care. They'll organize themselves. 
Everything is drifting to class separation, the 
growing discontent, the growing hardship of the 
masses. . . . Then you'll see." 

" Then what's going to happen?" 

" Overthrow. And social democracy." 

" How is that going to work ?" 

Dowd had been cornered by that before. " I don't 
care if it doesn't work," he snarled, " so long as we 
smash up this. We're getting too sick to care what 
comes after." 

" Dowd," said Trafford abruptly, "/'TO not so 
satisfied with things." 

Dowd looked at him askance. " You'll get recon- 
ciled to it," he said. It's ugly here but it's all 



364 MARRIAGE 

right there at the spending end. . . . Your sort 
has got to grab, your sort has got to spend until 
the thing works out and the social revolution makes 
an end of you." 

"And then?" 

Dowd became busy with his work. 

Trafford stuck his hands in his pockets and stared 
out of the dingy factory window. 

"I don't object so much to your diagnosis," he 
said, " as to your remedy. It doesn't strike me as a 
remedy." 

" It's an end," said Dowd, " anyhow. My God ! 
When I think of all the women and shirkers flaunting 
and frittering away there in the West, while here men 
and women toil and worry and starve. . . ." He 
stopped short like one who feels too full for con- 
trolled speech. 

" Dowd," said Traff ord after a fair pause, ".What 
would you do if you were me ?" 

"Do?" said Dowd. 

" Yes," said Trafford as one who reconsiders 
it, " what would you do ?" 

" Now that's a curious question, Mr. Trafford," 
said Dowd, turning to regard him. " Meaning if I 
were in your place? 

" Yes," said Trafford. " What would you do in 
my place?" 

" I should sell out of this place jolly quick," he 
said. 

"Sett!" said Trafford 1 softly. 

" Yes sell. And start a socialist daily right 
off. An absolutely independent, unbiassed social- 
ist daily." 

" And what would that do?" 

" It would stir people up. Every day it would stir 
people up." 



SUCCESSES 365 

" But you see I can't edit. I haven't the money, 
for half a year of a socialist daily. . . . And mean- 
while people want rubber." 

Dowd shook his head. " You mean that you and 
your wife want to have the spending of six. or eight 
thousand a year," he said. 

" I don't make half of that," said Trafford. 

" Well half of that," pressed Dowd. It's all the 
same to me." 

Trafford reflected. " The point where I don't 
agree with you," he said, " is in supposing that my 
scale of living over there, is directly connected 
with the scale of living about here." 

"Well, isn't it?" 

" * Directly,' I said. No. If we just stopped it 
over there there'd be no improvement here. In 
fact, for a time it would mean dislocations. It might 
mean permanent, hopeless, catastrophic dislocation. 
You know that as well as I do. Suppose the West- 
end became Tolstoyan; the East would become 
chaos." 

" Not much likelihood," sneered Dowd. 

" That's another question. That we earn to- 
gether here and that I spend alone over there, it's 
unjust and bad, but it isn't a thing that admits of 
any simple remedy. Where we differ, Dowd, is about 
that remedy. I admit the disease as fully as you do. 
I, as much as you, want to see the dawn of a great 
change in the ways of human living. But I don't 
think the diagnosis is complete and satisfactory ; our 
problem is an intricate muddle of disorders, not one 
simple disorder, and I don't see what treatment is 
indicated." 

" Socialism," said Dowd, " is indicated." 

'*' You might as well say that health is indicated," 
said Trafford with a note of impatience in his voice. 



366 MARRIAGE 

" Does any one question that if we could have this 
socialist state in which every one is devoted and 
every one is free, in which there is no waste and no 
want, and beauty and brotherhood prevail univer- 
sally, we wouldn't? But . You socialists have 

no scheme of government, no scheme of economic or- 
ganization, no intelligible guarantees of personal 
liberty, no method of progress, no ideas about mar- 
riage, no plan except those little pickpocket plans 
of the Fabians that you despise as much as I do 
for making this order into that other order you've 
never yet taken the trouble to work out even in prin- 
ciple. Really you know, Dowd, what is the good of 
pointing at my wife's dresses and waving the red flag 

at me, and talking of human miseries " 

" It seems to wake you up a bit," said Dowd with 
characteristic irrelevance. 



The accusing finger of Dowd followed Trafford 
into his dreams. 

Behind it was his grey-toned, intelligent, resent- 
ful face, his smouldering eyes, his slightly frayed 
collar and vivid, ill-chosen tie. At times Trafford 
could almost hear his flat insistent voice, his measur- 
ed h-less speech. Dowd was so penetratingly right, 
and so ignorant of certain essentials, so wrong in his 
forecasts and ultimates. It was true beyond disput- 
ing that Trafford as compared with Dowd had op- 
portunity, power of a sort, the prospect and possi- 
bility of leisure. He admitted the liability that fol- 
lowed on that advantage. It expressed so entirely 
the spirit of his training that with Trafford the noble 
maxim of the older socialists ; " from each accord- 



SUCCESSES 367 

ing to his ability, to each according to his need," 
received an intuitive acquiescence. He had no more 
doubt than Dowd that Dowd was the victim of a sub- 
tle evasive injustice, innocently and helplessly under- 
bred, underfed, cramped and crippled, and that all 
his own surplus made him in a sense Dowd's debtor. 

But Dowd's remedies! 

Trafford made himself familiar with the socialist 
and labor newspapers, and he was as much impressed 
by their honest resentments and their enthusiastic 
hopefulness as he was repelled by their haste and ig- 
norance, their cocksure confidence in untried reforms 
and impudent teachers, their indiscriminating pro- 
gressiveness, their impulsive lapses into hatred, mis- 
representation and vehement personal abuse. He 
was in no mood for the humours of human character, 
and he found the ill-masked feuds and jealousies of the 
leaders, the sham statecraft of G. B. Magdeberg, 
M.P., the sham Machiavellism of Dorvil, the sham 
persistent good-heartedness of Will Pipes, discourag- 
ing and irritating. Altogether it seemed to him the 
conscious popular movement in politics, both in and 
out of Parliament, was a mere formless and indeter- 
minate aspiration. It was a confused part of the 
general confusion, symptomatic perhaps, but exer- 
cising no controls and no direction. 

His attention passed from the consideration of 
this completely revolutionary party to the general 
field of social reform. With the naive directness of 
a scientific man, he got together the published liter- 
ature of half a dozen flourishing agitations and phil- 
anthropies, interviewed prominent and rather em- 
barrassed personages, attended meetings, and when 
he found the speeches too tiresome to follow watched 
the audience about him. He even looked up Aunt 
Plessington's Movement, and filled her with wild 



368 MARRIAGE 

hopes and premature boastings about a promising 
convert. "Marjorie's brought him round at last!" 
said Aunt Plessington. " I knew I could trust my 
little Madge!" His impression was not the cynic's 
impression of these wide shallows of activity. Pro- 
gress and social reform are not, he saw, mere cloaks 
of hypocrisy; a wealth of good intention lies behind 
them in spite of their manifest futility. There is 
much dishonesty due to the blundering desire for con- 
sistency in people of hasty intention, much artless 
and a little calculated self-seeking, but far more van- 
ity and amiable feebleness of mind in their general 
attainment of failure. The Plessingtons struck him 
as being after all very typical of the publicist at 
large, quite devoted, very industrious, extremely pre- 
sumptious and essentially thin-witted. They would 
cheat like ill-bred children for example, on some petty 
point of reputation, but they could be trusted to ex- 
pend, ineffectually indeed, but with the extremest 
technical integrity, whatever sums of money their ad- 
herents could get together. . . . 

He emerged from this inquiry into the proposed 
remedies and palliatives for Dowd's wrongs with a 
better opinion of people's hearts and a worse one of 
their heads than he had hitherto entertained. 

Pursuing this line of thought he passed from the 
politicians and practical workers to the economists 
and sociologists. He spent the entire leisure of the 
second summer after the establishment of the factory 
upon sociological and economic literature. At the 
end of that bout of reading he attained a vivid' real- 
ization of the garrulous badness that rules in this field 
of work, and the prevailing slovenliness and negli- 
gence in regard to it. He chanced one day to look 
up the article on Socialism in the new Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, and found in its entire failure to state 



SUCCESSES 869 

the case for or against modern Socialism, to trace 
its origins, or to indicate any rational development 
in the movement, a symptom of the universal laxity 
of interest in these matters. Indeed, the writer did 
not appear to have heard of modern Socialism at all ; 
he discussed collective and individualist methods very 
much as a rather ill-read schoolgirl in a hurry for her 
college debating society might have done. Compared 
with the treatment of engineering or biological science 
in the same compilation, this article became almost 
symbolical of the prevailing habitual incompetence 
with which all this system of questions is still han- 
dled. The sciences were done scantily and carelessly 
enough, but they admitted at any rate the possibility 
of completeness ; this did not even pretend to 
thoroughness. 

One might think such things had no practical 
significance. And at the back of it all was Dowd, 
remarkably more impatient each year, confessing the 
failure of parliamentary methods, of trades union- 
ism, hinting more and more plainly at the advent of 
a permanent guerilla war against capital, at the gen- 
eral strike and sabotage. 

" It's coming to that," said Dowd ; " it's coming to 
that." 

" What's the good of it?" he said, echoing Traf- 
ford's words. " It's a sort of relief to the feelings. 
rWhy shouldn't we?" 



But you must not suppose that at any time these 
huge grey problems of our social foundations and the 
riddle of intellectual confusion one reaches through 
them, and the yet broader riddles of human purpose 
that open beyond, constitute the whole of Trafford's 



370 MARRIAGE 

life during this time. When he came back to Marjorie 
and his home, a curtain of unreality fell between him 
and all these things. It was as if he stepped through 
such boundaries as Alice passed to reach her Won- 
derland; the other world became a dream again; as 
if he closed the pages of a vivid book and turned to 
things about him. Or again it was as if he drew 
down the blind of a window that gave upon a land- 
scape, grave, darkling, ominous, and faced the warm 
realities of a brightly illuminated room. . . . 

In a year or so he had the works so smoothly 
organized and Dowd so reconciled, trained and en- 
couraged that his own daily presence was unneces- 
sary, and he would go only three and then only two 
mornings a week to conduct those secret phases in 
the preparation of his catalytic that even Dowd could 
not be trusted to know. He reverted more and more 
completely to his own proper world. 

And the first shock of discovering that greater 
London which "isn't in it" passed away by imper- 
ceptible degrees. Things that had been as vivid and 
startling as new wounds became unstimulating and 
ineffective with repetition. He got used to the change 
from Belgravia to East Ham, from East Ham to Bel- 
gravia. He fell in with the unusual persuasion in 
Belgravia, that, given a firm and prompt Home 
Secretary, East Ham could be trusted to go on for 
quite a long time anyhow. One cannot sit down for 
all one's life in the face of insoluble problems. He 
had a motor-car now that far outshone Magnet's, 
and he made the transit from west to east in the 
minimum of time and with the minimum of friction. 
It ceased to be more disconcerting that he should have 
workers whom he could dismiss at a week's notice to 
want or prostitution than that he should have a ser- 
vant waiting behind his chair. Things were so. The 



SUCCESSES 371 

main current of his life and the main current of his 
life flowed through Marjorie and his home carried 
him on. Rubber was his, but there were still limit- 
less worlds to conquer. He began to take up, work- 
ing under circumstances of considerable secrecy at 
Solomonson's laboratories at Riplings, to which he 
would now go by motor-car for two or three days at 
a time, the possibility of a cheap, resilient and very 
tough substance, rubber glass, that was to be, Solo- 
monson was assured, the road surface of the future. 



The confidencetof Solomonson had made it impos- 
sible for Trafford to alter his style of living almost 
directly upon the conclusion of their agreement. He 
went back to Marjorie to broach a financially eman- 
cipated phase. They took a furnished house at 
Shackleford, near Godalming in Surrey, and there 
they lived for nearly a year using their Chelsea 
home only as a town apartment for Trafford when 
business held him in London. And there it was, in 
the pretty Surrey country, with the sweet air of pine 
and heather in Marjorie's blood, that their second 
child was born. It was a sturdy little boy, whose 
only danger in life seemed to be the superfluous 
energy with which he resented its slightest disrespect 
of his small but important requirements. 

When it was time for Marjorie to return to Lon- 
don, spring had come round again, and Trafford's 
conceptions of life were adapting themselves to the 
new scale upon which they were now to do things. 
While he was busy creating his factory in the East 
End, Marjorie was displaying an equal if a less origi- 
nal constructive energy in Sussex Square, near Lan- 
caster Gate, for there it was the new home was to be 



372 MARRIAGE 

established. She set herself to furnish and arrange 
it so as to produce the maximum of surprise and cha- 
grin in Daphne, and she succeeded admirably. The 
Magnets now occupied a flat in Whitehall Court, the 
furniture Magnet had insisted upon buying himself 
with all the occult cunning of the humorist in these 
matters, and not even Daphne could blind herself to 
the superiority both in arrangement and detail of 
Marjorie's home. That was very satisfactory, and 
so too was the inevitable exaggeration of Trafford's 
financial importance. " He can do what he likes in 
the rubber world," said Marjorie. " In Mincing 
Lane, where they deal in rubber shares, they used to 
call him and Sir Rupert the invaders ; now they call 
them the Conquering Heroes. ... Of course, it's 
mere child's play to Godwin, but, as he said, 'We 
want money.' It won't really interfere with his more 
important interests. . . ." 

I do not know why both those sisters were more 
vulgarly competitive with each other than with any 
one else ; I have merely, to record the fact that thev 
were so. 

The effect upon the rest of Marjorie's family was 
equally gratifying. Mr. Pope came to the house- 
warming as though he had never had the slightest 
objection to Trafford's antecedents, and told him 
casually after dinner that Marjorie had always been 
his favourite daughter, and that from the first he had 
expected great things of her. He told Magnet, who 
was the third man of the party, that he only hoped 
Syd and Rom would do as well as their elder sisters. 
[Afterwards, in the drawing-room, he whacked Mar- 
jorie suddenly and very startlingly on the shoulder- 
blade it was the first bruise he had given her since 
Buryhamstreet days. " You've made a man of him, 
Maggots," he said. 



SUCCESSES 373 

The quiet smile of the Christian Scientist was 
becoming now the fixed expression of Mrs. Pope's 
face, and it scarcely relaxed for a moment as she 
surveyed her daughter's splendours. She had tri- 
umphantly refused to worry over a rather serious 
speculative disappointment, but her faith in her pro- 
phet's spiritual power had been strengthened rather 
than weakened by the manifest insufficiency of his 
financial prestidigitations, and she was getting 
through life quite radiantly now, smiling at (but not, 
of course, giving way to) beggars, smiling at tooth- 
aches and headaches, both her own and other peo- 
ple's, smiling away doubts, smiling away everything 
that bows the spirit of those who are still in the bonds 
of the flesh. . . . 

Afterwards the children came round, Syd and 
Rom now with skirts down and hair up, and rather 
stiff in the fine big rooms, and Theodore in a high 
collar and very anxious to get Trafford on his side 
in his ambition to chuck a proposed bank clerkship 
and go in for professional aviation. . . . 

It was pleasant to be respected by her family 
again, but the mind of Marjorie was soon reaching 
out to the more novel possibilities of her changed 
position. She need no longer confine herself to teas 
and afternoons. She could now, delightful thought! 
give dinners. Dinners are mere vulgarities for the 
vulgar, but in the measure of your brains does a din- 
ner become a work of art. There is the happy blend- 
ing of a modern and distinguished simplicity with a 
choice of items essentially good and delightful and 
just a little bit not what was expected. There is the 
still more interesting and difficult blending and ar- 
rangement of the diners. From the first Marjorie 
resolved on a round table, and the achievement of that 
rare and wonderful thing, general conversation. She 



374 MARRIAGE 

had a clear centre, with a circle of silver bowls filled 
with short cut flowers and low shaded, old silver 
candlesticks adapted to the electric light. The first 
dinner was a nervous experience for her, but happily 
Trafford seemed unconscious of the importance of 
the occasion and talked very easily and well; at last 
she attained her old ambition to see Sir Roderick 
Dover in her house, and there was Remington, the 
editor of the Blue Weekly and his silent gracious 
wife; Edward Crampton, the historian, full of sur- 
prising new facts about Kosciusko ; the Solomonsons 
and Mrs. Millingham, and Mary Gasthorne the novel- 
ist. It was a good talking lot. Remington sparred 
agreeably with the old Toryism of Dover, flank at- 
tacks upon them both were delivered by Mrs. Milling- 
ham and Trafford, Crampton instanced Hungarian 
parallels, and was happily averted by Mary Gas- 
thorne with travel experiences in the Carpathians ; 
the diamonds of Lady Solomonson and Mrs. Reming- 
ton flashed and winked across the shining table, as 
their wearers listened with unmistakable intelligence, 
and when the ladies had gone upstairs Sir Rupert 
Solomonson told all the men exactly what he thought 
of the policy of the Blue Weekly, a balanced, common- 
sense judgment. Upstairs Lady Solomonson betrayed 
a passion of admiration for Mrs. Remington, and 
Mrs. Millingham mumbled depreciation of the same 
lady's intelligence in Mary Gasthorne's unwilling 
ear. " She's passive" said Mrs. Millingham. " She 
bores him. . . ." 

For a time Marjorie found dinner-giving delight- 
ful it is like picking and arranging posies of hu- 
man flowers and fruits and perhaps a little dried 
grass, and it was not long before she learnt that she 
was esteemed a success as a hostess. She gathered 
her earlier bunches in the Carmel and Solomonson 



SUCCESSES 375 

circle, with a stiffening from among the literary and 
scientific friends of Trafford and his mother, and one 
or two casual and undervalued blossoms from Aunt 
Plessington's active promiscuities. She had soon a 
gaily flowering garden of her own to pick from. Its 
strength and finest display lay in its increasing pro- 
portion of political intellectuals, men in and about the 
House who relaxed their minds from the tense detail- 
ed alertness needed in political intrigues by conver- 
sation that rose at times to the level of the smarter 
sort of article in the half-crown reviews. The women 
were more difficult than the men, and Marjorie found 
herself wishing at times that girl novelists and play- 
wrights were more abundant, or women writers on 
the average younger. These talked generally well, 
and one or two capable women of her own type talked 
and listened with an effect of talking; so many other 
women either chattered disturbingly, or else did not 
listen, with an effect of not talking at all, and so made 
gaps about the table. Many of these latter had to be 
asked because they belonged to the class of inevitable 
wives, sine-qua-nons, and through them she learnt the 
value of that priceless variety of kindly unselfish men 
who can create the illusion of attentive conversation 
in the most uncomfortable and suspicious natures 
without producing backwater and eddy in the general 
flow of talk. 

Indisputably Mar j one's dinners were successful. 
Of course, the abundance and aesthetic achievements 
of Mrs. Lee still seemed to her immeasurably out of 
reach, but it was already possible to show Aunt 
Plessington how the thing ought really to be done, 
Aunt Plessington with her narrow, lank, austerely 
served table, with a sort of quarter-deck at her own 
end and a subjugated forecastle round Hubert. And 
accordingly the Plessingtons were invited and shown, 



376 MARRIAGE 

and to a party, too, that restrained Aunt Plessing- 
ton from her usual conversational prominence. . . . 

These opening years of Trafford's commercial 
phase were full of an engaging activity for Marjorie 
as for him, and for her far more completely than for 
him were the profounder solicitudes of life lost sight 
of in the bright succession of immediate events. 

Marjorie did not let her social development inter- 
fere with her duty to society in the larger sense. Two 
years after the vigorous and resentful Godwin came 
a second son, and a year and a half later a third. 
" That's enough," said Marjorie, " now we've got to 
rear them." The nursery at Sussex Square had al- 
ways been a show part of the house, but it became 
her crowning achievement. She had never forgotten 
the Lee display at Vevey, the shining splendours of 
modern maternity, the books, the apparatus, the 
space and light and air. The whole second floor was 
altered to accommodate these four triumphant beings, 
who absorbed the services of two nurses, a Swiss nur- 
sery governess and two housemaids not to mention 
those several hundred obscure individuals who were 
yielding a sustaining profit in the East End. At any 
rate, they were very handsome and promising chil- 
dren, and little Margharita could talk three languages 
with a childish fluency, and invent and write a short 
fable in either French or German with only as much 
mispelling as any child of eight may be permitted. . . 

Then there sprang up a competition between 
Marjorie and the able, pretty wife of Halford Wal- 
lace, most promising of under-secretaries. The gave 
dinners against each other, they discovered young 
artists against each other, they went to first-nights 
and dressed against each other. Marjorie was ruddy 
and tall, Mrs. Halford Wallace dark and animated ; 
Halford Wallace admired Marjorie, Trafford was in- 



SUCCESSES 377 

sensible to Mrs. Halford Wallace. They played for 
points so vague that it was impossible for any one 
to say which was winning, but none the less they 
played like artists, for all they were worth. . . . 

Trafford's rapid prosperity and his implicit 
promise of still wider activities and successes brought 
him innumerable acquaintances and many friends. 
He joined two or three distinguished clubs, he derived 
an uncertain interest from a series of week-end visits 
to ample, good-mannered households, and for a time 
he found a distraction in little flashes of travel to 
countries that caught at his imagination, Morocco, 
Montenegro, Southern Russia. 

I do not know whether Marjorie might not have 
been altogether happy during this early Sussex 
Square period, if it had not been for an unconquer- 
able uncertainty about Trafford. But ever and again 
she became vaguely apprehensive of some perplexing 
unreality in her position. She had never had any 
such profundity of discontent as he experienced. It 
was nothing clear, nothing that actually penetrated, 
distressing her. It was at most an uneasiness. For 
him the whole fabric of life was, as it were, torn and 
pieced by a provocative sense of depths unplumbed 
that robbed it of all its satisfactions. For her these 
glimpses were as yet rare, mere moments of doubt 
that passed again and left her active and assured. 



It was only after they had been married six or 
seven years that Trafford began to realize how wide- 
ly his attitudes to Marjorie varied. He emerged 
slowly from a naive unconsciousness of his fluctua- 
tions, a naive unconsciousness of inconsistency 
that for most men and women remains throughout 



378 MARRIAGE 

life. His ruling idea that she and he were friends, 
equals, confederates, knowing everything about each 
other, co-operating in everything, was very fixed 
and firm. But indeed that had become the remotest 
rendering of their relationship. Their lives were lives 
of intimate disengagement. They came nearest to 
fellowship in relation to their children; there they 
shared an immense common pride. Beyond that 
was a less confident appreciation of their common 
house and their joint effect. And then they liked 
and loved each other tremendously. The could play 
upon each other and please each other in a hundred 
different ways, and they did so, quite consciously, 
observing each other with the completest external- 
ity. She was still in many ways for him the bright 
girl he had admired in the examination, still the mys- 
terious dignified transfiguration of that delightful 
creature on the tragically tender verge of mother- 
hood; these memories were of more power with him 
than the present realities of her full-grown strength 
and capacity. He petted and played with the girl 
still; he was still tender and solicitous for that early 
woman. He admired and co-operated also with the 
capable, narrowly ambitious, beautiful lady into 
which Marjorie had developed, but those remoter ex-, 
periences it was that gave the deeper emotions to 
their relationship. 

The conflict of aims that had at last brought 
Trafford from scientific investigation into busi- 
ness, had left behind it a little scar of hostility. 
He felt his sacrifice. He felt that he had given some- 
thing for her that she had had no right to exact, 
that he had gone beyond the free mutualities of 
honest love and paid a price for her; he had de- 
flected the whole course of his life for her and he was 
entitled to repayments. Unconsciously he had be- 



SUCCESSES 379 

come a slightly jealous husband. He resented inat- 
tentions and absences. He felt she ought to be with 
him and orient all her proceedings towards him. He 
did not like other people to show too marked an ap- 
preciation of her. She had a healthy love of ad- 
miration, and in addition her social ambitions made 
it almost inevitable that at times she should use her 
great personal charm to secure and retain adherents. 
He was ashamed to betray the resentments thus 
occasioned, and his silence widened the separation 
more than any protest could have done. . . . 

For his own part he gave her no cause for a re- 
ciprocal jealousy. Other women did not excite his 
imagination very greatly, and he had none of the 
ready disposition to lapse to other comforters which 
is so frequent a characteristic of the husband out of 
touch with his life's companion. He was perhaps 
an exceptional man in his steadfast loyalty to his 
wife. He had come to her as new to love as she had 
been. He had never in his life taken that one de- 
cisive illicit step which changes all the aspects of 
sexual life for a man even more than for a woman. 
Love for him was a thing solemn, simple, and un- 
spoilt. He perceived that it was not so for most 
other men, but that did little to modify his own pri- 
vate attitude. In his curious scrutiny of the people 
about him, he did not fail to note the drift of adven- 
tures and infidelities that glimmers along beneath 
the even surface of our social life. One or two of his 
intimate friends, Solomonson was one of them, passed 
through "affairs." Once or twice those dim pro- 
ceedings splashed upward to the surface in an open 
scandal. There came Remington's startling elope- 
ment with Isabel Rivers, the writer, which took two 
brilliant and inspiring contemporaries suddenly and 
distressingly out of Trafford's world. Trafford 



380 MARRIAGE 

felt none of that rage and forced and jealous con- 
tempt for the delinquents in these matters which is 
common in the ill-regulated, virtuous mind. Indeed, 
he was far more sympathetic with than hostile to the 
offenders. He had brains and imagination to appre- 
ciate the grim pathos of a process that begins as a 
hopeful quest, full of the suggestion of noble possi- 
bilities, full of the craving for missed intensities of 
fellowship and realization, that loiters involuntarily 
towards beauties and delights, and ends at last too 
often after gratification of an appetite, in artificially 
hideous exposures, and the pelting misrepresentations 
of the timidly well-behaved vile. But the general ef- 
fect of pitiful evasions, of unavoidable meannesses, of 
draggled heroics and tortuously insincere explana- 
tions confirmed him in his aversion from this laby- 
rinthine trouble of extraneous love. . . . 

But if Trafford was a faithful husband, he ceased 
to be a happy and confident one. There grew up in 
him a vast hinterland of thoughts and feelings, an ac- 
cumulation of unspoken and largely of unformulated 
things in which his wife had no share. And it was in 
that hinterland that his essential self had its abiding 
place. . . . 

It came as a discovery ; it remained for ever after 
a profoundly disturbing perplexity that he had talk- 
ed to Marjorie most carelessly, easily and seriously, 
during their courtship and their honeymoon. He 
remembered their early intercourse now as an im- 
mense happy freedom in love. Then afterwards a 
curtain had fallen. That almost delirious sense of 
escaping from oneself, of having at last found some 
one from whom there need be no concealment, some 
one before whom one could stand naked-souled and as- 
sured of love as one stands before one's God, faded so 
that he scarce observed its passing, but only discov- 



SUCCESSES 381 

ered at last that it had gone. He misunderstood and 
met misunderstanding. He found he could hurt her 
by the things he said, and be exquisitely hurt by her 
failure to apprehend the spirit of some ill-expressed 
intention. And it was so vitally important not to 
hurt, not to be hurt. At first he only perceived that 
he reserved himself; then there came the intimation 
of the question, was she also perhaps in such another 
hinterland as his, keeping herself from him? 

He had perceived the cessation of that first bright 
outbreak of self-revelation, this relapse into the se- 
crecies of individuality, quite early in their married 
life. I have already told of his first efforts to bridge 
their widening separation by walks and talks in the 
country, and by the long pilgrimage among the Alps 
that had ended so unexpectedly at Vevey. In the 
retrospect the years seemed punctuated with phases 
when " we must talk" dominated their intercourse, 
and each time the impulse of that recognized need 
passed away by insensible degrees again with noth- 
ing said. 

6 

Marjorie cherished an obstinate hope that Traf- 
ford would take up political questions and go into 
Parliament. It seemed to her that there was some- 
thing about him altogether graver and wider than 
most of the active politicians she knew. She liked 
to think of those gravities assuming a practical form, 
of Trafford very rapidly and easily coming forward 
into a position of cardinal significance. It gave her 
general expenditure a quality of concentration with- 
out involving any uncongenial limitation to suppose 
it aimed at the preparation of a statesman's circle 
whenever Trafford chose to adopt that assumption. 
Little men in great positions came to her house and 



382 MARRIAGE 

talked with opaque self-confidence at her table; she 
measured them against her husband while she played 
the admiring female disciple to their half-confidential 
talk. She felt that he could take up these questions 
and measures that they reduced to trite twaddle, open 
the wide relevancies behind them, and make them mag- 
ically significant, sweep away the encrusting petti- 
ness, the personalities and arbitrary prejudices. But 
why didn't he begin to do it? She threw out hints he 
seemed blind towards, she exercised miracles of 
patience while he ignored her baits. She came near 
intrigue in her endeavor to entangle him in political 
affairs. For a time it seemed to her that she was suc- 
ceeding I have already told of his phase of inquiry 
and interest in socio-political work and then he re- 
lapsed into a scornful restlessness, and her hopes 
weakened again. 

But he could not concentrate his mind, he could 
not think where to begin. Day followed day, each 
with its attacks upon his intention, its petty just 
claims, its attractive novelties of aspect. The tele- 
phone bell rang, the letters flopped into the hall, Mal- 
com the butler seemed always at hand with some dis- 
tracting oblong on his salver. Dowd was developing 
ideas for a reconstructed organization of the fac- 
tory, Solomonson growing enthusiastic about rub- 
ber-glass, his house seemed full of women, Marjorie 
had an engagement for him to keep or the children 
were coming in to say good-night. To his irritated 
brain the whole scheme of his life presented itself at 
last as a tissue of interruptions which prevented his 
looking clearly at .reality. More 'and more definitely 
he realized he wanted to get away and think. His 
former life of research became invested with an ef- 
fect of immense dignity and of a steadfast singleness 
of purpose. . . . 



SUCCESSES 383 

But Trafford was following his own lights, upon 
his own lines. He was returning to that faith in the 
supreme importance of thought and knowledge, up- 
on which he had turned his back when he left pure 
research behind him. To that familiar end he came 
by an unfamiliar route, after his long, unsatisfying 
examination of social reform movements and social 
and political theories. Immaturity, haste and pre- 
sumption vitiated all that region, and it seemed to 
him less and less disputable that the only escape for 
mankind from a continuing extravagant futility lay 
through the attainment of a quite unprecedented 
starkness and thoroughness of thinking about all 
these questions. This conception of a needed Ren- 
ascence obsessed him more and more, and the per- 
suasion, deeply felt if indistinctly apprehended, that 
somewhere in such an effort there was a part for him 
to play. . . . 

Life is too great for us or too petty. It gives _us 
no tolerable middle way between baseness and great- 
ness. We must die daily on the levels of ignoble com- 
promise or perish tragically among the precipices. 
On the one hand is a life unsatisfying and secure, 
a plane of dulled gratifications, mean advantages, 
petty triumphs, adaptations, acquiescences and sub- 
missions, and on the other a steep and terrible climb, 
set with sharp stones and bramble thickets and the 
possibilities of grotesque dislocations, and the snares 
of such temptation as comes only to those whose minds 
have been quickened by high desire, and the challenge 
of insoluble problems and the intimations of issues 
so complex and great, demanding such a nobility of 
purpose, such a steadfastness, alertness and open- 
ness of mind, that they fill the heart of man with 
despair. . . . 



384 MARRIAGE 

There were moods when Trafford would, as peo- 
ple say, pull himself together, and struggle with his 
gnawing discontent. He would compare his lot with 
that of other men, reproach himself for a monstrous 
greed and ingratitude. He remonstrated with him- 
self as one might remonstrate with a pampered child 
refusing to be entertained by a whole handsome nur- 
sery full of toys. Other men did their work in the 
world methodically and decently, did their duty by 
their friends and belongings, were manifestly patient 
through dullness, steadfastly cheerful, ready to meet 
vexations with a humorous smile, and grateful for 
orderly pleasures. Was he abnormal? Or was he in 
some unsuspected way unhealthy ? Trafford neglected 
no possible explanations. Did he want this great 
Renascence of the human mind because he was suf- 
fering from some subtle form of indigestion? He in- 
voked, independently of each other, the aid of two 
distinguished specialists. They both told him in ex- 
actly the same voice and with exactly the same air 
of guineas well earned : "What you want, Mr. Traf- 
ford, is a change." 

Trafford brought his mind to bear upon the in- 
stances of contentment about him. He developed an 
opinion that all men and many women were poten- 
tially at least as restless as himself. A huge pro- 
portion of the usage and education in modern life 
struck upon him now as being a training in content- 
ment. Or rather in keeping quiet and not upsetting 
things. The serious and responsible life of an or- 
dinary prosperous man fulfilling the requirements 
of our social organization fatigues and neither com- 
pletely satisfies nor completely occupies. Still less 
does the responsible part of the life of a woman of 
the prosperous classes engage all her energies or 
hold her imagination. And there has grown up a 



SUCCESSES 385 

great informal organization of employments, games, 
ceremonies, social routines, travel, to consume these 
surplus powers and excessive cravings, which might 
otherwise change or shatter the whole order of human 
living. He began to understand the forced preoccupa- 
tion with cricket and golf, the shooting, visiting, and 
so forth, to which the young people of the econom- 
ically free classes in the community are trained. He 
discovered a theory for hobbies and specialized inter- 
ests. He began to see why people go to Scotland to 
get away from London, and come to London to get 
away from Scotland, why they crowd to and fro 
along the Riviera, swarm over Switzerland, shoot, 
yacht, hunt, and maintain an immense apparatus of 
racing and motoring. Because so they are able to re- 
main reasonably contented with the world as it is. He 
perceived, too, that a man who has missed or broken 
through the training to this kind of life, does not 
again very readily subdue himself to the security of 
these systematized distractions. His own upbringing 
had been antipathetic to any such adaptations; his 
years of research had given him the habit of naked 
intimacy with truth, filled him with a craving for 
reality and the destructive acids of a relentless criti- 
cal method. 

He began to understand something of the psy- 
chology of vice, to comprehend how small a part mere 
sensuality, how large a part the spirit of adventure 
and the craving for illegality, may play, in the career 
of those who are called evil livers. Mere animal im- 
pulses and curiosities it had always seemed possible 
to him to control, but now he was beginning to appre- 
hend the power of that passion for escape, at any 
cost, in any way, from the petty, weakly stimulating, 
competitive motives of low-grade and law-abiding 
prosperity. . . . 



386 MARRIAGE 

For a time Trafford made an earnest effort to 
adjust himself to the position in which he found him- 
self, and make a working compromise with his dis- 
turbing forces. He tried to pick up the scientific pre- 
occupation of his earlier years. He made extensive 
schemes, to Solomonson's great concern, whereby he 
might to a large extent disentangle himself from busi- 
ness. He began to hunt out forgotten note-books 
and yellowing sheets of memoranda. He found the 
resumption of research much more difficult than he 
had ever supposed possible. He went so far as to 
plan a laboratory, and to make some inquiries as to 
site and the cost of building, to the great satisfaction 
not only of Marjorie but of his mother. Old Mrs. 
Trafford had never expressed her concern at his 
abandonment of molecular physics for money- 
making, but now in her appreciation of his return to 
pure investigation she betrayed her sense of his de- 
parture. 

But in his heart he felt that this methodical es- 
tablishment of virtue by limitation would not suffice 
for him. He said no word of this scepticism as it 
grew in his mind. Marjorie was still under the im- 
pression that he was returning to research, and that 
she was free to contrive the steady preparation for 
that happier day when he should assume his political 
inheritance. And then presently a queer little dis- 
pute sprang up between them. Suddenly, for the 
first time since he took to business, Trafford found 
himself limiting her again. She was disposed, partly 
through the natural growth of her circle and her 
setting and partly through a movement on the part 
of Mrs. Halford Wallace, to move from Sussex Square 
into a larger, more picturesquely built house in a 
more central position. She particularly desired a 
good staircase. He met her intimations of this de- 



SUCCESSES 387 

velopment with a curious and unusual irritation. 
The idea of moving bothered him. He felt that ex- 
aggerated annoyance which is so often a concomitant 
of overwrought nerves. They had a dispute that 
was almost a quarrel, and though Marjorie dropped 
the matter for a time, he could feel she was still at 
work upon it. 



CHAPTER THE SECOND 

TRAFFORD DECIDES TO Go 



A HAUNTING desire to go away into solitude grew 
upon Trafford very steadily. He wanted intensely 
to think, and London and Marjorie would not let him 
think. He wanted therefore to go away out of Lon- 
don and Marjorie's world. He wanted, he felt, to go 
away alone and face God, and clear things up in his 
mind. By imperceptible degrees this desire antici- 
pated its realization. His activities were affected 
more and more by intimations of a determined crisis. 
One eventful day it seemed to him that his mind 
passed quite suddenly from desire to resolve. He found 
himself with a project, already broadly definite. Hith- 
erto he hadn't been at all clear where he could go. 
From the first almost he had felt that this change he 
needed, the change by which he was to get out of the 
thickets of work and perplexity and distraction that 
held him captive, must be a physical as well as a 
mental removal ; he must go somewhere, still and iso- 
lated, where sustained detached thinking was pos- 
sible. . . . His preference, if he had one, inclined 
him to some solitude among the Himalaya Moun- 
tains. That came perhaps from Kim and the pre- 
cedent of the Hindoo's religious retreat from the 
world. But this retreat he contemplated was a re- 
treat that aimed at a return, a clarified and strength- 
ened resumption of the world. And then suddenly, 
as if he had always intended it, Labrador flashed 
through his thoughts, like a familiar name that had 
been for a time quite unaccountably forgotten. 

388 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 389 

The word " Labrador" drifted to him one day 
from an adjacent table as he sat alone at lunch in 
the Liberal Union Club. Some bore was reciting the 
substance of a lecture to a fellow-member. " Seems 
to be a remarkable country," said the speaker. 
"Mineral wealth hardly glanced at, you know. Furs 
and a few score Indians. And at our doors. Prac- 
tically at our doors." 

Trafford ceased to listen. His mind was taking 
up this idea of Labrador. He wondered why he had 
not thought of Labrador before. 

He had two or three streams of thought flowing 
in his mind, as a man who muses alone is apt to do. 
Marjorie's desire to move had reappeared; a par- 
ticular group of houses between Berkeley Square 
and Park Lane had taken hold of her fancy, she 
had urged the acquisition of one upon him that 
morning, and this kept coming up into conscious- 
ness like a wrong thread in a tapestry. Moreover, 
he was watching his fellow-members with a critical 
rather than a friendly eye. A half-speculative, half- 
hostile contemplation of his habitual associates was 
one of the queer aspects of this period of unsettle- 
ment. They exasperated him by their massive con- 
tentment with the surface of things. They came in 
one after another patting their ties, or pulling at 
the lapels of their coats, and looked about them for 
vacant places with a conscious ease of manner that 
irritated his nerves. No doubt they were all more 
or less successful and distinguished men, matter for 
conversation and food for anecdotes, but why did 
they trouble to give themselves the air of it? They 
halted or sat down by friends, enunciated vapid 
remarks in sonorous voices, and opened conversations 
in trite phrases, about London architecture, about 
the political situation or the morning's newspaper, 



390 MARRIAGE 

conversations that ought, he felt, to have been 
thrown away unopened, so stale and needless they 
seemed to him. They were judges, lawyers of all 
sorts, bankers, company promoters, railway mana<- 
gers, stockbrokers, pressmen, politicians, men of 
leisure. He wondered if indeed they were as opaque 
as they seemed, wondered with the helpless wonder 
of a man of exceptional mental gifts whether any 
of them at any stage had had such thoughts as his, 
had wanted as acutely as he did now to get right 
out of the world. Did old Booch over there, for ex- 
ample, guzzling oysters, cry at times upon the un- 
known God in the vast silences of the night? But 
Booch, of course, was a member or something of the 
House of Laymen, and very sound on the thirty- 
nine articles a man who ate oysters like that could 
swallow anything and in the vast silences of the 
night he was probably heavily and noisily asleep. . . . 

Blenkins, the gentlemanly colleague of Denton in 
the control of the Old Country Gazette, appeared on 
his way to the pay-desk, gesticulating amiably en- 
route to any possible friend. Trafford returned his 
salutation, and pulled himself together immediately 
after in fear that he had scowled, for he hated to 
be churlish to any human being. Blenkins, too, it 
might be, had sorrow and remorse and periods' of 
passionate self-distrust and self-examination; may- 
be Blenkins could weep salt tears, as Blenkins no 
doubt under suitable sword-play would reveal heart 
and viscera as quivering and oozy as any man's. 

But to Trafford's jaundiced eyes just then, it 
seemed that if you slashed Blenkins across- he would 
probably cut like a cheese. . i. : . . 

Now, in Labrador . . . . 

So soon as Blenkins had cleared, Trafford follow- 
ed him to the pay-desk, and went on upstairs to the 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 391 

smoking-room, thinking of Labrador. Long ago he 
had read the story of Wallace and Hubbard in that 
wilderness. 

There was much to be said for a winter in Labra- 
dor. It was cold, it was clear, infinitely lonely, with 
a keen edge of danger and hardship and never a 
letter or a paper. 

One could provision a hut and sit wrapped in 
fur, watching the Northern Lights . . . 

" I'm off to Labrador," said Trafford, and en- 
tered the smoking-room. 

It was, after all, perfectly easy to go to Labrador. 
One had just to go. . . . 

As he pinched the end of his cigar, he became 
aware of Blenkins, with a gleam of golden glasses and 
a flapping white cuff, beckoning across the room to 
him. With that probable scowl on his conscience 
Trafford was moved to respond with an unreal 
warmth, and strolled across to Blenkins and a group 
of three or four other people, including that vigorous 
young politician, Weston Massinghay, and Hart, 
K.C., about the further fire-place. " We were talking 
of you," said Blenkins. " Come and sit down with us. 
Why don't you come into Parliament?" 

" I've just arranged to go for some months to 
Labrador." 

" Industrial development ?" asked Blenkins, aU 
alive. 

" No. Holiday. " 

No Blenkins believes that sort of thing, but of 
course, if Trafford chose to keep his own counsel 

" Well, come into Parliament as soon as you get 
back." 

Trafford had had that old conversation before. 
He pretended insensibility when Blenkins gestured 
to a vacant chair. " No," he said, still standing, " we 



392 MARRIAGE 

./* 

settled all that. And now I'm up to my neck in 
detail about Labrador. I shall be starting before 
the month is out." 

Blenkins and Hart simulated interest. " It's 
immoral," said Blenkins, "for a man of your stand- 
ing to keep out of politics." 

It's more than immoral," said Hart; "it's 
American." 

" Solomonson comes in to represent the firm," 
smiled Trafford, signalled the waiter for coffee, and 
presently disentangled himself from their company. 

For Blenkins Trafford concealed an exquisite 
dislike and contempt; and Blenkins had a consider- 
able admiration for Trafford, based on extensive mis- 
understandings. Blenkins admired Trafford because 
he was good-looking and well-dressed, with a beauti- 
ful and successful wife, because he had become rea- 
sonably rich very quickly and easily, was young 
and a Fellow of the Royal Society with a reputation 
that echoed in Berlin, and very perceptibly did not 
return Blenkins' admiration. All these things filled 
Blenkins with a desire for Trafford's intimacy, and 
to become the associate of the very promising polit- 
ical career that it seemed to him, in spite of Traf- 
ford's repudiations, was the natural next step in a 
deliberately and honourably planned life. He 
mistook Trafford's silences and detachment for the 
marks of a strong, silent man, who was scheming the 
immense, vulgar, distinguished-looking achievements 
that appeal to the Blenkins mind. Blenkins was 
a sentimentally loyal party Liberal, and as he said 
at times to Hart and Weston Massinghay : "If those 
other fellows get hold of him !" 

Blenkins was the fine flower of Oxford Liberal- 
ism and the Teimysonian days. He wanted to be like 
King Arthur and Sir Galahad, with the merest touch 



TR AFFORD DECIDES 393 

of Launcelot, and to be perfectly upright and splen- 
did and very, very successful. He was a fair, tenor- 
ing sort of person with an Arthurian moustache and 
a disposition to long frock coats. It had been said 
of him that he didn't dress like a gentleman, but that 
he dressed more like a gentleman than a gentleman 
ought to dress. It might have been added that he did- 
n't behave like a gentleman, but that he behaved more 
like a gentleman than a gentleman ought to behave. 
He didn't think, but he talked and he wrote more 
thoughtfully in his leaders, and in the little dialogues 
he wrote in imitation of Sir Arthur Helps, than any 
other person who didn't think could possibly do. He 
was an orthodox Churchman, but very, very broad; 
he held all the doctrines, a distinguished sort of thing 
to do in an age of doubt, but there was a quality 
about them as he held them as though they had been 
run over by something rather heavy. It was a flat- 
tened and slightly obliterated breadth nothing was 
assertive, but nothing, under examination, proved to 
be altogether gone. His profuse thoughtfulness was 
riot confined to his journalistic and literary work, it 
overflowed into Talks. He was a man for Great 
Talks, interminable rambling floods of boyish obser- 
vation, emotional appreciation, and silly, sapient 
comment. He loved to discuss " Who are the Best 
Talkers now Alive ?" He had written an essay, Talk 
in the Past. He boasted of week-ends when the Talk 
had gone on from the moment of meeting in the train 
to the moment of parting at Euston, or Paddington, 
or Waterloo ; and one or two hostesses with embit- 
tered memories could verify his boasting. He did his 
best to make the club a Talking Club, and loved to 
summon men to a growing circle of chairs. . . . 

Trafford had been involved in Talks on one or 
two occasions, and now, as he sat alone in the corri- 



394 MARRIAGE 

dor and smoked and drank his coffee, he could imag- 
ine the Talk he had escaped, the Talk that was going 
on in the smoking room the platitudes, the sagaci- 
ties, the digressions, the sudden revelation of deep, 
irrational convictions. He reflected upon the various 
Talks at which he had assisted. His chief impression 
of them all was of an intolerable fluidity. Never once 
had he known a Talk thicken to adequate discussion ; 
never had a new idea or a new view come to him in a 
Talk. He wondered why Blenkins and his like talked 
at all. Essentially they lived for pose, not for ex- 
pression; they did not greatly desire to discover, 
make, or be ; they wanted to seem and succeed. Talk- 
ing perhaps was part of their pose of great intellec- 
tual activity, and Blenkins was fortunate to have an 
easy, unforced running of mind. . . . 

Over his cigar Trafford became profoundly philo- 
sophical about Talk. And after the manner of those 
who become profoundly philosophical he spread out 
the word beyond its original and proper intentions 
to all sorts of kindred and parallel things. Blenkins 
and his miscellany of friends in their circle of chairs 
were, after all, only a crude rendering of very much 
of intellectual activity of mankind. Men talked so 
often as dogs bark. Those Talkers never came to 
grips, fell away from topic to topic, pretended depth 
and evaded the devastating horrors of sincerity. Lis- 
tening was a politeness amongst them that was pre- 
sently rewarded with utterance. Tremendously like 
dogs they were, in a dog-fancying neighborhood on 
a summer week-day afternoon. Fluidity, excessive 
abundance, inconsecutiveness ; these were the things 
that made Talk hateful to Trafford. 

Wasn't most literature in the same class ? Wasn't 
nearly all present philosophical and sociological 
discussion in the world merely a Blenkins circle on a 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 395 

colossal scale, with every one looming forward to get 
in a deeply thoughtful word edgeways at the first op- 
portunity? Imagine any one in distress about his 
soul or about mankind, going to a professor of eco- 
nomics or sociology or philosophy! He thought of 
the endless, big, expensive, fruitless books, the windy 
expansions of industrious pedantry that mocked the 
spirit of inquiry. The fields of physical and biolog- 
ical science alone had been partially rescued from the 
floods of human inconsecutiveness. There at least 
a man must, on the whole, join on to the work of 
other men, stand a searching criticism, justify him- 
self. Philosophically this was an age of relaxed school- 
men. He thought of Docter Codger at Cambridge, 
bubbling away with his iridescent Hegelianism like 
a salted snail ; of Doctor Quiller at Oxford, ignoring 
Bergson and fulminating a preposterous insular 
Pragmatism. Each contradicted the other funda- 
mentally upon matters of universal concern ; neither 
ever joined issue with the other. Why in the name 
of humanity didn't some one take hold of those two 
excellent gentlemen, and bang their busy heads to- 
gether hard and frequently until they either compro- 
mised or cracked? 



He forgot these rambling speculations as he came 
out into the spring sunshine of Pall Mall, and halting 
for a moment on the topmost step, regarded the tidy 
pavements, the rare dignified shops, the waiting taxi- 
cabs, the pleasant, prosperous passers-by. His mind 
lapsed back to the thought that he meant to leave all 
this and go to Labrador. His mind went a step fur- 
ther, and reflected that he would not only go to Lab- 
rador, but it was highly probable come back 
again. 



396 MARRIAGE 

And then? 

Why, after all, should he go to Labrador at all? 
Why shouldn't he make a supreme effort here ? 

Something entirely irrational within him told him 
with conclusive emphasis that he had to go to Lab- 
rador. . . . 

He remembered there was this confounded busi- 
ness of the proposed house in Mayfair to consider. . . . 



It occurred to him that he would go a little out 
of his way, and look at the new great laboratories 
at the Romeike College, of which his old bottle- 
washer Durgan was, he knew, extravagantly proud. 
Romeike's widow was dead now and her will executed, 
and her substance half turned already to bricks and 
stone and glazed tiles and all those excesses of space 
and appliance which the rich and authoritive imagine 
must needs give us Science, however ill-selected and 
underpaid and slighted the users of those opportun- 
ities may be. The architects had had great fun with 
the bequest; a quarter of the site was devoted to a 
huge square surrounded by dignified, if functionless, 
colonnades, and adorned with those stone seats of 
honour which are always so chill and unsatisfactory 
as resting places in our island climate. The Labor- 
atories, except that they were a little shaded by the 
colonnades, were everything a laboratory should be; 
the benches were miracles of convenience, there wasn't 
anything the industrious investigator might want, 
steam, high pressures, electric power, that he couldn't 
get by pressing a button or turning a switch, unless 
perhaps it was inspiring ideas. And the new library 
at the end, with its greys and greens, its logarithmic 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 397 

computators at every table, was a miracle of mental 
convenience. 

Durgan showed his old professor the marvels. 

" If he chooses to do something here," said Dur- 
gan not too hopefully, " a man can. . . ." 

" What's become of the little old room where we 
two used to work?" asked Trafford. 

" They'll turn 'em all out presently," said Dur- 
gan, "when this part is ready, but just at present it's 
very much as you left it. There's been precious little 
research done there since you went away not what 
/ call research. Females chiefly and boys. Play- 
ing at it. Making themselves into D.Sc.'s by a baby 
research instead of a man's examination. It's like 
broaching a thirty-two gallon cask full of Pap to 
think of it. Lord, sir, the swill ! Research ! Count- 
ing and weighing things ! Professor Lake's all right, 
I suppose, but his work was mostly mathematical; 
he didn't do much of it here. No, the old days ended, 
sir, when you " 

He arrested himself, and obviously changed his 
words. " Got busy with other things." 

Trafford surveyed the place ; it seemed to him to 
have shrunken a little in the course of the three years 
that had intervened since he resigned his position. On 
the wall at the back there still hung, fly-blown and a 
little crumpled, an old table of constants he had made 
for his elasticity researches. Lake had kept it there, 
for Lake was a man of generous appreciations, and 
rather proud to follow in the footsteps of an inves- 
tigator of Trafford's subtlety and vigor. The old sink 
in the corner where Trafford had once swilled his 
watch glasses and filled his beakers had been replaced 
by one of a more modern construction, and the 
combustion cupboard was unfamiliar, until Durgan 
pointed out that it had been enlarged. The ground- 



398 MARRIAGE 

glass window at the east end showed still the marks of 
an explosion that had banished a clumsy student from 
this sanctuary at the very beginning of Trafford's 
career. 

" By Jove !" he said after a silence, " but I did 
some good work here." 

" You did, sir," said Durgan. 

" I wonder I may take it up again presently." 

" I doubt it, sir," said Durgan. 

"Oh! But suppose I come back?" 

" I don't think you would find yourself coming 
back, sir," said Durgan after judicious consideration. 

He adduced no shadow of a reason for his doubt, 
but some mysterious quality in his words carried 
conviction to Trafford's mind. He knew that he 
would never do anything worth doing in molecular 
physics again. He knew it now conclusively for the 
first time. 



He found himself presently in Bond Street. The 
bright May day had brought out great quantities of 
people, so that he had to come down from altitudes of 
abstraction to pick his way among them. 

He was struck by the prevailing interest and con- 
tentment in the faces he passed. There was no sense 
of insecurity betrayed, no sense of the deeps and 
mysteries upon which our being floats like a film. 
They looked solid, they looked satisfied ; surely never 
before in the history of the world has there been so 
great a multitude of secure-feeling, satisfied-looking, 
uninquiring people as there is to-day. All the tragic 
great things of life seem stupendously remote from 
them ; pain is rare, death is out of sight, religion has 
shrunken to an inconsiderable, comfortable, reassur- 
ing appendage of the daily life. And with the bright 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 399 

small things of immediacy they are so active and 
alert. Never before has the world seen such multi- 
tudes, and a day must come when it will cease to see 
them for evermore. 

As he shuldered his way through the throng be- 
fore the Oxford Street shop windows he appreciated 
a queer effect, almost as it were of insanity, about all 
this rich and abundant and ultimately aimless life, 
this tremendous spawning and proliferation of un- 
eventful humanity. These individual lives signified no 
doubt enormously to the individuals, but did all the 
shining, reflecting, changing existence that went by 
like bubbles in a stream, signify collectively anything 
more than the leaping, glittering confusion of shoal- 
ing mackerel on a sunlit afternoon? The pretty 
girl looking into the window schemed picturesque 
achievements with lace and ribbon, the beggar at the 
curb was alert for any sympathetic eye, the chauf- 
feur on the waiting taxi-cab watched the twopences 
ticking on with a quiet satisfaction ; each followed a 
keenly sought immediate end, but altogether? Where 
were they going altogether? Until he knew that, 
where was the sanity of statecraft, the excuse of any 
impersonal effort, the significance of anything beyond 
a life of appetites and self-seeking instincts? 

He found that perplexing suspicion of priggish- 
ness affecting him again. Why couldn't he take the 
gift of life as it seemed these people took it? Why 
was he continually lapsing into these sombre, dimly 
religious questionings and doubts? Why after all 
should he concern himself with these riddles of some 
collective and ultimate meaning in things? Was he 
for all his ability and security so afraid of the acci- 
dents of life that on that account he clung to this 
conception of a larger impersonal issue which the 
world in general seemed to have abandoned so cheer- 



400 MARRIAGE 

fully? At any rate he did cling to it and his sense 
of it made the abounding active life of this stirring, 
bristling thoroughfare an almost unendurable per- 
plexity. . . . 

By the Marble Arch a little crowd had gathered 
at the pavement edge. He remarked other little 
knots towards Paddington, and then still others, and 
inquiring, found the King was presently to pass. 
They promised themselves the gratification of seeing 
the King go by. They would see a carriage, they 
would see horses and coachmen, perhaps even they 
might catch sight of a raised hat and a bowing figure. 
And this would be a gratification to them, it would 
irradiate the day with a sense of experiences, excep- 
tional and precious. For that some of them had al- 
ready been standing about for two or three hours. 

He thought of these waiting people for a time, 
and then he fell into a speculation about the King. 
He wondered if the King ever lay awake at three 
o'clock in the morning and faced the riddle of the 
eternities or whether he did really take himself seri- 
ously and contentedly as being in himself the vital 
function of the State, performed his ceremonies, went 
hither and thither through a wilderness of gaping 
watchers, slept well on it. Was the man satisfied? 
Was he satisfied with his empire as it was and himself 
as he was, or did some vision, some high, ironical in- 
timation of the latent and lost possibilities of his 
empire and of the world of Things Conceivable that 
lies beyond the poor tawdry splendours of our present 
loyalties, ever dawn upon him? 

Trafford's imagination conjured up a sleepless 
King Emperor agonizing for humanity. . . . 

He turned to his right out of Lancaster Gate into 
Sussex Square, and came to a stop at the pavement 
edge. 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 401 

From across the road he surveyed the wide white 
front and portals of the house that wasn't big enough 
for Marjorie. 



He let himself in with his latchkey. 

Malcolm, his man, hovered at the foot of the 
staircase, and came forward for his hat and gloves 
and stick. 

"Mrs. Trafford in?" asked Trafford. 

" She said she would be in by four, sir." 

Trafford glanced at his watch and went slowly 
upstairs. 

On the landing there had been a rearrangement of 
the furniture, and he paused to survey it. The alter- 
ations had been made to accommodate a big cloisonne 
jar, that now glowed a wonder of white and tinted 
whites and luminous blues upon a dark, deep-shining 
stand. He noted now the curtain of the window had 
been changed from something surely it had been a 
reddish curtain ! to a sharp clear blue with a black 
border, that reflected upon and sustained and en- 
couraged the jar tremendously. And the wall behind 
? Yes. Its deep brown was darkened to an abso- 
lute black behind the jar, and shaded up between the 
lacquer cabinets on either hand by insensible degrees 
to the general hue. It was wonderful, perfectly har- 
monious, and so subtly planned that it seemed it all 
might have grown, as flowers grow. . . . 

He entered the drawing-room and surveyed its 
long and handsome spaces. Post-impressionism was 
over and gone ; three long pictures by young Roger- 
son and one of Redwood's gallant bronzes faced the 
tall windows between the white marble fireplaces at 
either end. There were two lean jars from India, a 



402 MARRIAGE 

young boy's head from Florence, and in a great bowl 
in the remotest corner a radiant mass of azaleas. . . . 

His mood of wondering at familiar things was 
still upon him. It came to him as a thing absurd and 
incongruous that this should be his home. It was all 
wonderfully arranged into one dignified harmony, but 
he felt now that at a touch of social earthquake, with 
a mere momentary lapse towards disorder, it would 
degenerate altogether into litter, lie heaped together 
confessed the loot it was. He came to a stop opposite 
one of the Rogersons, a stiffly self-conscious shop girl 
in her Sunday clothes, a not unsuccessful emulation of 
Nicholson's wonderful Mrs. Stafford of Paradise 
Row. Regarded as so much brown and grey and 
amber-gold, it was coherent in Marjorie's design, but 
regarded as a work of art, as a piece of expression, 
how madly irrelevant was its humour and implications 
to that room and the purposes of that room ! Roger- 
son wasn't perhaps trying to say much, but at any 
rate he was trying to say something, and Redwood 
too was asserting freedom and adventure, and the 
thought of that Florentine of the bust, and the pa- 
tient, careful Indian potter, and every maker of all 
the little casual articles about him, produced an ef- 
fect of muffled, stifled assertions. Against this sub- 
dued and disciplined background of muted, inarticu- 
late cries, cries for beauty, for delight, for freedom, 
Marjorie and her world moved and rustled and chat- 
tered and competed wearing the skins of beasts, the 
love-plumage of birds, the woven cocoon cases of little 
silkworms. . . . 

" Preposterous," he whispered. 

He went to the window and stared out; turned 
about and regarded the gracious variety of that long, 
well-lit room again, then strolled thoughtfully up- 
stairs. He reached the door of his study, and a 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 403 

sound of voices from the schoolroom it had recently 
been promoted from the rank of day nursery to this 
level caught his mood. He changed his mind, cros- 
sed the landing, and was welcomed with shouts. 

The rogues had been dressing up. Margharita, 
that child of the dreadful dawn, was now a sturdy and 
domineering girl of eight, and she was attired in a 
gilt paper mitre and her governess's white muslin 
blouse so tied at the wrists as to suggest long sleeves, 
a broad crimson band doing duty as a stole. She 
was Becket prepared for martyrdom at the foot of 
the altar. Godwin, his eldest son, was a hot-tempered, 
pretty-featured pleasantly self-conscious boy of 
nearly seven and very happy now in a white dragoon's 
helmet and rude but effective brown paper breastplate 
and greaves, as the party of assassin knights. A 
small acolyte in what was in all human probably one 
of the governess's more intimate linen garments as- 
sisted Becket, while the general congregation of Can- 
terbury was represented by Edward, aged two, and 
the governess, disguised with a Union Jack tied over 
her head after the well-known fashion of the middle 
ages. After the children had welcomed their father 
and explained the bloody work in hand, they returned 
to it with solemn earnestness, while Trafford surveyed 
the tragedy. Godwin slew with admirable gusto, and 
I doubt if the actual Thomas of Canterbury showed 
half the stately dignity of Margharita. 

The scene finished, they went on to the penance 
of Henry the Second; and there was a tremendous 
readjustment of costumes, with much consultation 
and secrecy. Trafford's eyes wet from his offspring 
to the long, white-painted room, with its gay frieze 
of ships and gulls and its rug-variegated cork carpet 
of plain brick red. Everywhere it showed his wife's 
quick cleverness, the clean serviceable decorativeness 



404 MARRIAGE 

of it all, the pretty patterned window curtains, the 
writing desks, the little library of books, the flowers 
and bulbs in glasses, the counting blocks and bricks 
and jolly toys, the blackboard on which the children 
learnt to draw in bold wide strokes, the big, well- 
chosen German colour prints upon the walls. And 
the children did credit to their casket ; they were not 
only full of vitality but full of ideas, even Edward 
was already a person of conversation. They were 
good stuff anyhov. . . . 

It was fine in a sense, Trafford thought, to have 
given up his own motives and curiosities to afford this 
airy pleasantness of upbringing for them, and then 
came a qualifying thought. Would they in their turn 
for the sake of another generation have to give up 
fine occupations for mean occupations, deep thoughts 
for shallow? Would the world get them in turn? 
Would the girls be hustled and flattered into advan- 
tageous marriages, that dinners and drawing-rooms 
might still prevail? Would the boys, after this gra- 
cious beginning, presently have to swim submerged 
in another generation of Blenkinses and their Talk, 
toil in arduous self-seeking, observe, respect and 
manipulate shams, succeed or fail, and succeeding, 
beget amidst hope and beautiful emotions yet another 
generation doomed to insincerities and accommoda- 
tions, and so die at last as he must die? . . . 

He heard his wife's clear voice in the hall below, 
and went down to meet her. She had gone into the 
drawing-room, and he followed her in and through 
the folding doors to the hinder part of the room, 
where she stood ready to open a small bureau. She 
turned at his approach, and smiled a pleasant, habit- 
ual smile. . . . 

She was no longer the slim, quick-moving girl who 
had come out of the world to him when he crawled 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 405 

from beneath the wreckage of Solomonson's plane, 
no longer the half-barbaric young beauty who had 
been revealed to him on the staircase of the Vevey 
villa. She was now a dignified, self-possessed woman, 
controlling her house and her life with a skilful, sub- 
the appreciation of her every point and possibility. 
She was wearing now a simple walking dress of brown- 
ish fawn colour, and her hat was touched with a steely 
blue that made her blue eyes seem handsome and hard, 
and toned her hair to a merely warm brown. She 
had, as it were, subdued her fine colours into a sheath 
in order that she might presently draw them again 
with more effect. 

" Hullo, old man !" she said, " you home?" 

He nodded. " The club bored me and I couldn't 
work." 

Her voice had something of a challenge and de- 
fiance in it. " I've been looking at a house," she said. 
" Alice Carmel told me of it. It isn't in Berkeley 
Square, but it's near it. It's rather good." 

He met her eye. " That's premature," he said. 

" We can't go on living in this one." 

" I won't go to another." 

"But why?" 

" I just won't." 

"It isn't the money?" 

" No," said Trafford, with sudden fierce resent- 
ment. " I've overtaken you and beaten you there, 
Marjorie." 

She stared at the harsh bitterness of his voice. 
She was about to speak when the door opened, and 
Malcom ushered in Aunt Plessington and Uncle 
Hubert. Husband and wife hung for a moment, and 
then realized their talk was at an end. . . . 

Marjorie went forward to greet her aunt, care- 
less now of all that once stupendous Influence might 



406 MARRIAGE 

think of her. She had long ceased to feel even the 
triumph of victory in her big house, her costly, dig- 
nified clothes, her assured and growing social impor- 
tance. For five years Aunt Plessington had not even 
ventured to advise; had once or twice admired. All 
that business of Magnet was even elaborately 
forgotten. . . . 

Seven years of feverish self-assertion had left 
their mark upon both the Plessingtons. She was 
leaner, more gauntly untidy, more aggressively ill- 
dressed. She no longer dressed carelessly, she defied 
the world with her clothes, waved her tattered and 
dingy banners in its face. Uncle Hubert was no fat- 
ter, but in some queer way he had ceased to be thin. 
Like so many people whose peripheries defy the man- 
ifest quaint purpose of Providence, he was in a state 
of thwarted adiposity, and with all the disconnected- 
ness and weak irritability characteristic of his con- 
dition. He had developed a number of nervous move- 
ments, chin-strokings, cheek-scratchings, and in- 
credulous pawings at his more salient features. 

" Isn't it a lark ?" began Aunt Plessington, with 
something like a note of apprehension in her high- 
pitched voice, and speaking almost from the doorway, 
" we're making a call together. I and Hubert ! It's 
an attack in force." 

Uncle Hubert goggled in the rear and stroked his 
chin, and tried to get together a sort of facial ex- 
pression. 

The Traffords made welcoming noises, and Mar- 
jorie advanced to meet her aunt. 

" We want you to do something for us," said Aunt 
Plessington, taking two hands with two hands. . . . 

In the intervening years the Movement had had 
ups and downs ; it had had a boom, which had ended 
abruptly in a complete loss of voice for Aunt Plessing- 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 407 

ton she had tried to run it on a patent non-stimulat- 
ing food, and then it had entangled itself with a new 
cult of philanthropic theosophy from which it had 
been extracted with difficulty and in a damaged con- 
dition. It had never completely recovered from that 
unhappy association. Latterly Aunt Plessington had 
lost her nerve, and she had taken to making calls upon 
people with considerable and sometimes embarrassing 
demand for support, urging them to join committees, 
take chairs, stake reputations, speak and act as foils 
for her. If they refused she lost her temper very 
openly and frankly, and became industriously vin- 
dictive. She circulated scandals or created them. 
Her old assurance had deserted her ; the strangulated 
contralto was losing its magic power, she felt, in this 
degenerating England it had ruled so long. In the 
last year or so she had become extremely snappy with 
Uncle Hubert. She ascribed much of the Movement's 
futility to the decline of his administrative powers and 
the increasing awkwardness of his gestures, and she 
did her utmost to keep him up to the mark. Her 
only method of keeping him up to the mark was to 
jerk the bit. She had now come to compel Marjorie 
to address a meeting that was to inaugurate a new 
phase in the Movement's history, and she wanted 
Marjorie because she particularly wanted a daring, 
liberal, and spiritually amorous bishop, who had once 
told her with a note of profound conviction that Mar- 
jorie was a very beautiful woman. She was so intent 
upon her purpose that she scarcely noticed Trafford. 
He slipped from the room unobserved under cover 
of her playful preliminaries, and went to the untidy 
little apartment overhead which served in that house 
as his study. He sat down at the big desk, pushed 
his methodically arranged papers back, and drummed 
on the edge with his fingers. 



408 MARRIAGE 

" I'm damned if we have that bigger house," said 
Trafford. 

O /? 

He felt he wanted to confirm and establish this 
new resolution, to go right away to Labrador for a 
year. He wanted to tell some one the thing definitely. 
He would have gone downstairs again to Marjorie, 
but sh)e was submerged and swimming desperately 
against the voluble rapids of Aunt Plessington's pur- 
pose. It might be an hour before that attack with- 
drew. Presently there would be other callers. He de- 
cided to have tea with his mother and talk to her 
about this new break in the course of his life. 

Except that her hair was now grey and her brown 
eyes by so much contrast brighter, Mrs. Trafford's 
appearance had altered very little in the ten years of 
her only son's marriage. Whatever fresh realizations 
of the inevitably widening separation between parent 
and child these years had brought her, she had kept 
to jherself. She had watched her daughte!r-in-law 
sometimes with sympathy, sometimes with perplexity, 
always with a jealous resolve to let no shadow of 
jealousy fall between them. Marjorie had been sweet 
and friendly to her, but after the first outburst of 
enthusiastic affection, she had neither offered nor 
invited confidences. Old Mrs. Trafford had talked 
of Marjorie to her son guardedly, and had marked 
and respected a growing indisposition on his part to 
discuss his wife. For a year or so after his marriage 
she had ached at times with a sense of nearly intoler- 
able loneliness, and then the new interests she had 
found for herself had won their way against this de- 
pression. The new insurrectionary movement of wo- 
men that had distinguished those years had attacked 
her by its emotion and repelled her by its crudity, and 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 409 

she had resolved, quite in the spirit of the man who 
had shaped her life, to make a systematic study of all 
the contributory strands that met in this difficult 
tangle. She tried to write, but she found that the 
poetic gift, the gift of the creative and illuminating 
phrase which alone justifies writing, was denied to 
her, and so she sought to make herself wise, to read 
and hear, and discuss and think over these things, and 
perhaps at l^st inspire and encourage writingj in 
others. 

Her circle of intimates grew, and she presently 
remarked with a curious interest that while she had 
lost the confidences of her own son and his wife, she 
was becoming the confidant of an increasing number 
of other people. They came to her, she perceived, 
because she was receptive and sympathetic and with- 
out a claim upon them or any interest to complicate 
the freedoms of their speech with her. They came to 
her, because she did not belong to them nor they to 
her. It is, indeed, the defect of all formal and es- 
tablished relationship, that it embarrasses speech, and 
taints each phase in intercourse with the flavour of 
diplomacy. One can be far more easily outspoken 
to a casual stranger one may never see again than to 
that inseparable other, who may misinterpret, who 
may disapprove or misunderstand, and who will cer- 
tainly in the measure of that discord remember. . . . 

It became at last a matter of rejoicing to Mrs. 
Trafford that the ties of the old instinctive tenderness 
between herself and her son, the memories of pain and 
tears and the passionate conflict of childhood, were 
growing so thin and lax and inconsiderable, that she 
could even hope some day to talk to him again al- 
most as she talked to the young men and young wo- 
men who drifted out of the unknown to her and sat 



410 MARRIAGE 

in her little room and sought to express their perplex- 
ities and listened to her advice. . . . 

It seemed to her that afternoon the wished-for day 
had come. 

Tr afford found her just returned from a walk in 
Kensington Gardens and writing a note at her desk 
under the narrow sunlit window that looked upon the 
High Street. " Finish your letter, little mother," he 
said, and took possession of the hearthrug. 

When she had sealed and addressed her letter, she 
turned her head and found him looking at his father's 
portrait. 

" Done?" he asked, becoming aware of her eyes. 

She took her letter into the hall and returned to 
him, closing the door behind her. 

" I'm going away, little mother," he said with an 
unconvincing off-handediiess. " I'm going to take a 
holiday." 

"Alone?" 

" Yes. I want a change. I'm going off some- 
where untrodden ground as near as one can get it 
nowadays Labrador." 

Their eyes met for a moment. 

" Is it for long?" 

" The best part of a year." 

" I thought you were going on with your research 
work again." 

" No." He paused. " I'm going to Labrador." 

"Why?" she asked. 

" I'm going to think." 

She found nothing to say for a moment. " It's 
good," she remarked, " to think." Then, lest she her- 
self should seem to be thinking too enormously, she 
rang the bell to order the tea that was already on its 
way. 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 411 

" It surprises a mother," she said, when the maid 
had come and gone, " when her son surprises her." 

" You see," he repeated, as though it explained 
everything, " I want to think." 

Then after a pause she asked some questions about 
Labrador ; wasn't it very cold, very desert, very dan- 
gerous and bitter, and he answered informingly. 
How was he going to stay there? He would go up 
the country with an expedition, build a hut and re- 
main behind. Alone? Yes thinking. Her eyes 
rested on his face for a time. " It will be lonely," 
she said after a pause. 

She saw him as a little still speck against immense 
backgrounds of snowy wilderness. 

The tea-things came before mother and son were 
back at essentials again. Then she asked abruptly: 
" Why are you going away like this ?" 

" I'm tired of all this business and finance," he 
said after a pause. 

" I thought you would be," she answered as de- 
liberately. 

" Yes. I've had enough of things. I want to get 
clear. And begin again somehow." 

She felt they both hung away from the essential 
aspect. Either he or she must approach it. She 
decided that she would, that it was a less difficult 
thing for her than for him. 

" And Marjorie?" she asked. 

He looked into his mother's eyes very quietly. 
" You see," he went on deliberately disregarding her 
question, " I'm beached. I'm aground. I'm spoilt 
now for the old researches spoilt altogether. And I 
don't like this life I'm leading. I detest it. While I 
was struggling it had a kind of interest. There was 
an excitement in piling up the first twenty thousand. 
But now / It's empty, it's aimless, it's incessant. . .'* 



412 MARRIAGE 

He paused. She turned to the tea-things, and lit 
the spirit lamp under the kettle. It seemed a little 
difficult to do, and her hand trembled. When she 
turned on him again it was with an effort. 

" Does Marjorie like the life you are leading?" 
she asked, and pressed her lips together tightly. 

He spoke with a bitterness in his voice that as- 
tonished her. "Oh, she likes it." 

" Are you sure ?" 

He nodded. 

" She won't like it without you." 

" Oh, that's too much ! It's her world. It's what 
she's done what she's made. She can have it; she 
can keep it. I've played my part and got it for her. 
But now now I'm free to go. I will go. She's got 
everything else. I've done my half of the bargain. 
But my soul's my own. If I want to go away and 
think, I will. Not even Marjorie shall stand in the 
way of that." 

She made no answer to this outburst for a couple 
of seconds. Then she threw out, " Why shouldn't 
Marjorie think, too?" 

He considered that for some moments. " She 
doesn't," he said, as though the word's came from the 
roots of his being. 

" But you two " 

" We don't talk. It's astonishing how we don't. 
We don't. We can't. We try to, and we can't. And 
she goes her way, and now I will go mine." 

"And leave her?" 

He nodded. 

"In London?" 

" With all the things she cares for." 

" Except yourself." 

" I'm only a means " 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 413 

She turned 1 her quiet face to him. " You know," 
she said, " that isn't true." . . . 

" No," she repeated, to his silent contradiction. 

" I've watched her," she went on. " You're not a 
means. I'd have spoken long ago if I had thought 
that. Haven't I watched? Haven't I lain awake 
through long nights thinking about her and you, 
thinking over every casual mood, every little sign 
longing to help helpless." . . . She struggled with 
herself, for she was weeping. "It has come to this," 
she said in a whisper, and choked back a flood of 
tears. 

Trafford stood motionless, watching her. She 
became active. She moved round the table. She 
looked at the kettle, moved the cups needlessly, made 
tea, and stood waiting for a moment before she pour- 
ed it out. " It's so hard to talk to you," she said, 
" and about all this. ... I care so much. For her. 
And for you. . . . Words don't come, dear . . . One 
says stupid things." 

She poured out the tea, and left the cups steaming, 
and came and stood before him. 

" You see," she said, " you're ill. You aren't 
just. You've come to an end. You don't know where 
you are and what you want to do. Neither does she, 
my dear. She's as aimless as you and less able to 
help it. Ever so much less able." 

" But she doesn't show it. She goes on. She 
wants things and wants things " 

" And you want to go away. It's the same thing. 
It's exactly the same thing. It's dissatisfaction. Life 
leaves you empty and craving leaves you with noth- 
ing to do but little immediate things that turn to dust 
as you do them. It's her trouble, just as it's your 
trouble." 

" But she doesn't show it." 



414. MARRIAGE 

" Women don't. Not so much. Perhaps even 
she doesn't know it. Half the women in our world 
don't know and for a woman it's so much easier to 
go on so many little things." . . . 

Trafford tried to grasp the intention of this. 
" Mother," he said, " I mean to go away." 

" But think of her !" 

" I've thought. Now I've got to think of myself." 

" You can't without her." 

" I will. It's what I'm resolved to do." 

" Go right away?" 

" Right away." 

"And think?" 

He nodded. 

** Find out what it all means, my boy ?" 

" Yes. So far as I'm concerned." 

"And then ?" 

** Come back, I suppose. I haven't thought." 

" To her?" 

He didn't answer. She went and stood beside him, 
leaning upon the mantel. " Godwin," she said, "she'd 
only be further behind. . . . You've got to take her 
with you." 

He stood still and silent. 

"You've got to think things out with her. If 
you don't " 

" I can't." 

" Then you ought to go away with her " She 

stopped. 

" For good ?" he asked. 

Yes." 

They were both silent for a space. Then Mrs. 
Trafford gave her mind to the tea that was cooling 
in the cups, and added milk and sugar. She spoke 
again with the table between them. 

" I've thought so much of these things," she said 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 415 

with the milk- jug in her hand. " It's not only you 
two, but others. And 1 all the movement about us. ... 
Marriage isn't what it was. It's become a different 
thing because women have become human beings. 

Only You know, Godwin, all these things are so 

difficult to express. Woman's come out of being a 
slave, and yet she isn't an equal. . . . We've had a 
sort of sham emancipation, and we haven't yet come 
to the real one." 

She put down the milk- jug on the tray with an air 
of grave deliberation. " If you go away from her 
and make the most wonderful discoveries about life 
and yourself, it's no good unless she makes them 
too. It's no good at all. . . . You can't live without 
her in the end, any more than she can live without 
you. You may think you can, but I've watched you. 
You don't want to go away from her, you want to go 
away from the world that's got hold of her, from the 
dresses and parties and the competition and all this 
complicated flatness we have to live in. ... It 
wouldn't worry you a bit, if it hadn't got hold of her. 
You don't want to get out of it for your own sake. 
You are out of it. You are as much out of it as any 
one can be. Only she holds you in it, because she 
isn't out of it. Your going away will do nothing. 
She'll still be in it and still have her hold on you. 
. . . You've got to take her away. Or else if 
you go away in the end it will be just like a ship, 
Godwin, coming back to its moorings." 

She watched 1 his thoughtful face for some mo- 
ments, then arrested herself just in time in the act of 
putting a second portion of sugar into each of the 
cups. She handed her son his tea, and he took it 
mechanically. " You're a wise little mother," he said. 
" I didn't see things in that light. ... I wonder if 
you're right." 



416 MARRIAGE 

" I know I am," she said. 

" I've thought more and more, it was Marjorie." 

" It's the world." 

" Women made the world. All the dress and dis- 
play and competition." 

Mrs. Trafford thought. " Sex made the world. 
Neither men nor women. But the world has got hold 
of the women tighter than it has the men. They're 
deeper in." She looked up into his face. " Take her 
with you," she said, simply. 

" She won't come," said Trafford, after consider- 
ing it. 

Mrs. Trafford reflected. " She'll come if you 
make her," she said. 

" She'll want to bring two housemaids." 

" I don't think you know Marjorie as well as I 
do." 

" But she can't " 

" She can. It's you you'll want to take two 
housemaids for her. Even you. . . . Men are not fair 
to women." 

Trafford put his untasted tea upon the mantel- 
shelf, and confronted his mother with a question 
point blank. " Does Marjorie care for me?" he asked. 

" You're the sun of her world." 

" But she goes her way." 

She's clever, she's full of life, full of activities, 
eager to make and arrange and order; but there's 
nothing she is, nothing she makes, that doesn't centre 
on you." 

" But if she cared, she'd understand !" 

" My dear, do you understand ?" 

He stood musing. " I had everything clear," he 
said. " I saw my way to Labrador. . . ." 

Her little clock pinged the hour. "Good God!" 
he said, " I'm to be at dinner somewhere at seven. 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 417 

We're going to a first night. With the Bernards, I 
think. Then I suppose we'll have a supper. Always 
life is being slashed to tatters by these things. 
Always. One thinks in snatches of fifty minutes. 
It's dementia. . . ." 



They dined at the Loretto Restaurant with the 
Bernards and Richard Hampden and Mrs. Godwin 
Capes, the dark-eyed, quiet-mannered wife of the 
dramatist, a woman of impulsive speech and long 
silences, who had subsided from an early romance 
(Capes had been divorced for her while she was still a 
mere girl) into a markedly correct and exclusive 
mother of daughters. Through the dinner Marjorie 
was watching Trafford and noting the deep preoc- 
cupation of his manner. He talked a little to Mrs. 
Bernard until it was time for Hampden to entertain 
her, then finding Mrs. Capes was interested in Ber- 
nard, he lapsed into thought. Presently Marjorie 
discovered his eyes scrutinizing herself. 

She hoped the play would catch his mind, but the 
play seemed devised to intensify his sense of the taw- 
dry unreality of contemporary life. Bernard filled 
the intervals with a conventional enthusiasm. Capes 
didn't appear. 

" He doesn't seem to care to see his things," his 
wife explained. 

"It's so brilliant," said Bernard. 

" He has to do it," said Mrs. Capes slowly, her 
sombre eyes estimating the crowded stalls below. "It 
isn't what he cares to do." 

The play was in fact an admirable piece of Eng- 
lish stagecraft, and it dealt exclusively with that un- 
real other world of beings the English theatre has 



418 MARRIAGE 

for its own purposes developed. Just as Greece 
through the ages evolved and polished and perfected 
the idealized life of its Homeric poems, so the British 
mind has evolved their Stage Land to embody its 
more honourable dreams, full of heroic virtues, in- 
credible honour, genial worldliness, childish villainies, 
profound but amiable waiters and domestics, pathetic 
shepherds and preposterous crimes. Capes, needing 
an income, had mastered the habits and customs of 
this imagined world as one learns a language ; success 
endorsed his mastery; he knew exactly how deeply 
to underline an irony and just when it is fit and pro- 
per for a good man to call upon " God !" or cry out 
" Damn !" In this play he had invented a situation 
in which a charming and sympathetic lady had killed 
a gross and drunken husband in self-defence, almost 
but not quite accidentally, and had then appealed to 
the prodigious hero for assistance in the resulting 
complications. At a great cost of mental suffering 
to himself he had told his First and Only Lie to 
shield her. Then years after he had returned to 
England the first act happened, of course in India 
to find her on the eve of marrying, without any 
of the preliminary confidences common among human 
beings, an old school friend of his. (In plays all 
Gentlemen have been at school together, and one has 
been the other's fag.) The audience had to be inter- 
ested in the problem of what the prodigious hero was 
to do in this prodigious situation. Should he main- 
tain a colossal silence, continue his shielding, and let 
his friend marry the murderess saved by his perjury, 

or ? . . . The dreadful quandary ! Indeed, the 

absolute inconvenience ! 

Marjorie watched Trafford in the corner of the 
box, as he listened rather contemptuously to the 
statement of the evening's Problem and then lapsed 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 419 

again into a brooding quiet. She wished she under- 
stood his moods better. She felt there was more in 
this than a mere resentment at her persistence about 
the new house. . . . 

Why didn't he go on with things? . . . 

This darkling mood of his had only become mani- 
fest to her during the last three or four years of their 
life. Previously, of course, he had been irritable 
at times. 

Were they less happy now than they had been in 
the little house in Chelsea? It had really been a 
horrible little house. And yet there had been a 
brightness then a nearness. . . . 

She found her mind wandering away upon a sort 
of stock-taking expedition. How much of real hap- 
piness had she and Trafford had together? They 
ought by every standard to be so happy. . . . 

She declined the Bernard's invitation to a chafing- 
dish supper, and began to talk so soon as she and 
Trafford had settled into the car. 

" Rag," she said, " something's the matter?" 

" Well yes." 

"The house?" 

" Yes the house." 

Marjorie considered through a little interval. 

" Old man, why are you so prejudiced against a 
bigger house?" 

" Oh, because the one we have bores me, and the 
next one will bore me more." 

"But try it." 

" I don't want to." 

" Well," she said and lapsed into silence. 

" And then," he asked, " what are we going to 
do?" 

" Going to do when ?" 

" After the new house " 



420 MARRIAGE 

" I'm going to open out," she said. 

He made no answer. 

" I want to open out. I want you to take your 
place in the world, the place you deserve." 

" A four-footman place?" 

" Oh ! the house is only a means." 

He thought upon that. " A means," he asked, 
" to what? Look here, Marjorie, what do you think 
you are up to with me and yourself? What do you 
see me doing in the years ahead?" 

She gave him a silent and thoughtful profile for 
a second or so. 

" At first I suppose you are going on with your 
researches." 

" Well?" 

" Then 1 must tell you what I think of you, 

Rag. Politics " 

"Good Lord!" 

" You've a sort of power. You could make things 
noble." 

"And then? Office?" 

" Why not? Look at the little men they are." 

" And then perhaps a still bigger house ?" 

" You're not fair to me." 

He pulled up the bearskin over his knees. 

" Marjorie!" he said. " You see We aren't 

going to do any of those things at all. . . . No! . . ." 

" I can't go on with my researches," he explained. 
" That's what you don't understand. I'm not able 
to get back to work. I shall never do any good re- 
search again. That's the real trouble, Marjorie, 

and it makes all the difference. As for politics I 

can't touch politics. I despise politics. I think this 
empire and the monarchy and Lords and Commons 
and patriotism and social reform and all the rest of 
it, silly, silly beyond words; temporary, accidental, 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 421 

foolish, a mere stop-gap like a gipsey's round- 
about in a place where one will presently build a 
house. . . . You don't help make the house by riding 
on the roundabout. . . . There's no clear knowledge 
no clear purpose. . . . Only research matters 
and expression perhaps I suppose expression is a 
sort of research until we get that that sufficient 
knowledge. And you see, I can't take up my work 
again. I've lost something. . . ." 

She waited. 

" I've got into this stupid struggle for winning 
money," he went on, " and I feel like a woman must 
feel who's made a success of prostitution. I've been 
prostituted. I feel like some one fallen and diseased 
. . . . Business and prostitution; they're the same 
thing. All business is a sort of prostitution, all pros- 
titution is a sort of business. Why should one sell 
one's brains any more than one sells one's body? . . . 
It's so easy to succeed if one has good brains and 
cares to do it, and doesn't let one's attention or 
imagination wander and it's so degrading. Hope- 
lessly degrading. . . . I'm sick of this life, Mar- 
jorie. 7 don't want to buy things. I'm sick of buying. 
I'm at an end. I'm clean at an end. It's exactly as 
though suddenly in walking through a great house 
one came on a passage that ended abruptly in a 
door, which opened on nothing! Nothing!" 

" This is a mood," she whispered to his pause. 

" It isn't a mood, it's a fact. . . . I've got nothing 
ahead, and I don't know how to get back. My 
life's no good to me any more. I've spent myself." 

She looked at him with dismayed eyes. " But," 
she said, " this is a mood." 

" No," he said, " no mood, but conviction. I 
know. , . ." 



422 MARRIAGE 

He started. The car had stopped at their house, 
and Malcolm was opening the door of the car. They 
descended silently, and went upstairs in silence. 

He came into her room presently and sat down by 
her fireside. She had gone to her dressing-table and 
unfastened a necklace; now with this winking and 
glittering in her hand she came and stood beside him. 

" Rag," she said, " I don't know what to say. 
This isn't so much of a surprise. ... I felt that some- 
how life was disappointing you, that I was disap- 
pointing you. I've felt it endless times, but more so 
lately. I haven't perhaps dared to let myself know 
just how much. . . . But isn't it what life is? Doesn't 
every wife disappoint her husband? We're none of 
us inexhaustible. After all, we've had a good time; 
isn't it a little ungrateful to forget? . . ." 

" Look here, Rag," she said. " I don't know 
what to do. If I did know, I would do it. ... What 
are we to do?" 

" Think," he suggested. 

" We've got to live as well as think." 

" It's the immense troublesome futility of every- 
thing," he said. 

" Well let us cease to be futile. Let us do. 
You say there is no grip for you in research, that 
you despise politics. . . . There's no end of trouble 
and suffering. Cannot we do social work, social 
reform, change the lives of others less fortunate than 
ourselves. . . ." 

" Who are we that we should tamper with the lives 
of others?" 

" But one must do something." 

He thought that over. 

" No," he said " that's the universal blunder now- 
adays. One must do the right thing. And we don't 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 423 

know the right thing, Marjorie. That's the very 
heart of the trouble. . . . Does this life satisfy you? 
If it did would you always be so restless? . . ." 

" But," she said, " think of the good things in 
life?" 

" It's just the good, tht exquisite things in life, 
that make me rebel against this life we are leading. 
It's because I've seen the streaks of gold that I 
know the rest for dirt. When I go cheating and schem- 
ing to my office, and come back to find you squander- 
ing yourself upon a horde of chattering, overdressed 
women, when I think that that is our substance and 
everyday and what we are, then it is I remember most 
the deep and beautiful things. ... It is impossible, 
dear, it is intolerable that life was made beautiful 
for us just for these vulgarities." 

" Isn't there " She hesitated. " Love still?" 

"But Has it been love? Love is a % thing 

that grows. But we took it as people take flowers 
out of a garden, cut them off, put them in water. . . . 
How much of our daily life has been love? How 
much of it mere consequences of the love we've left 
behind us? . . . We've just cohabited and 'made 
love' you and I and thought of a thousand other 
things. . . ." 

He looked up at her. " Oh, I love a thousand 
things about you," he said. " But do I love you, 
Marjorie? Have I got you? Haven't I lost you 
haven't we both lost something, the very heart of it 
all? Do you think that we were just cheated by 
instinct, that there wasn't something in it we felt and 
thought was tl\ere ? And where is it now ? Where is 
that brightness and wonder, Marjorie, and the pride 
and the immense unlimited hope?" 

She was still for a moment, then knelt very swift- 
ly before him and held out her arms. 



424 MARRIAGE 

" Oh Rag !" she said, with a face of tender beauty. 
He took her finger tips in his, dropped them and stood 
up above her. 

" My dear," he cried, " my dear ! why do you 
always want to turn love into touches? . . . Stand 
up again. Stand up there, my dear ; don't think I've 
ceased to love you, but stand up there and let me 
talk to you as one man to another. If we let this oc- 
casion slide to embraces. . . ." 

He stopped short. 

She crouched before the fire at his feet. " Go on," 
she said, " go on." 

" I feel now that all our lives now, Marjorie 

We have come to a crisis. I feel that now now 

is the time. Either we shall save ourselves now or 
we shall never save ourselves. It is as if something 
had gathered and accumulated and could wait no 

longer. If we do not seize this opportunity Then 

our lives will go on as they have gone on, will become 
more and more a matter of small excitements and 
elaborate comforts and distraction. . . ." 

He stopped this halting speech and then broke 
out again. 

" Oh ! why should the life of every day conquer us ? 
Why should generation after generation of men have 
these fine beginnings, these splendid dreams of youth, 
attempt so much, achieve so much and then, then 
become this ' Look at this room, this litter of little 
satisfactions ! Look at your pretty books there, a 
hundred minds you have pecked at, bright things 
of the spirit that attracted you as jewels attract a 
jackdaw. Look at the glass and silver, and that silk 
from China ! And we are in the full tide of our years, 
Marjorie. Now is the very crown and best of our 
lives. And this is what we do, we sample, we accumu- 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 425 

late. For this we loved, for this we hoped 1 . Do you 
remember when we were young that life seemed so 
splendid it was intolerable we should ever die ? . . . 
The splendid dream ! The intimations of greatness ! 
. . . .The miserable failure!" 

He raised clenched fists. " I won't stand it, 
Marjorie. I won't endure it. Somehow, in some way, 
I will get out of this life and you with me. I have 
been brooding upon this and brooding, but now I 
know. ..." 

" But how?" asked Marjorie, with her bare arms 
about her knees, staring into the fire. " How?" 

" We must get out of its constant interruptions, 
its incessant vivid, petty appeals. . . ." 

"We might go away to Switzerland." 

" We went to Switzerland. Didn't we agree it 
was our second honeymoon. It isn't a honeymoon 
we need. No, we'll have to go further than that." 

A sudden light broke upon Marjorie's mind. She 
realized he had a plan. She lifted a fire-lit face to 
him and looked at him with steady eyes and asked 

"Where?" 

" Ever so much further." 

"Where?" 

" I don't know." 

" You do. You've planned something." 

" I don't know, Marjorie. At least I haven't 
made up my mind. Where it is very lonely. Cold and 

remote. Away from all this " His mind stopped 

short, and he ended with a cry : " Oh ! God ! how I 
want to get out of all this!" 

He sat down in her armchair, and bowed his face 
on his hands. 

Then abruptly he stood up and went out of the 
room. 



426 MARRIAGE 

8 

When in five minutes' time He came back into her 
room she was still upon her hearthrug before the fire, 
with her necklace in her hand, the red reflections of 
the flames glowing and winking in her jewels and in 
her eyes. He came and sat again in her chair. 

" I have been ranting," he said. " I feel I've 
been eloquent. You make me feel like an actor- 
manager, in a play by Capes. . . . You are the most 
difficult person for me to talk to in all the world be- 
cause you mean so much to me." 

She moved impulsively and checked herself and 
crouched away from him. " I mustn't touch your 
hand," she whispered. 

" I want to explain." 

" You've got to explain." 

" I've got quite a definite plan. . . . But a sort 
of terror seized me. It was like shyness." 

" I know. I knew you had a plan." 

" You see. ... I mean to go to Labrador." 

He leant forward with his elbows on his knees and 
his hands extended, explanatory. He wanted intense- 
ly that she should understand and agree and his de- 
sire made him clumsy, now slow and awkward, now 
glibly and unsatisfyingly eloquent. But she compre- 
hended his quality better than he knew. They were to 
go away to Labrador, this snowy desert of which she 
had scarcely heard, to camp in the very heart of the 
wilderness, two hundred miles or more from any hu- 
man habitation 

" But how long?" she asked abruptly. 

" The better part of a year." 

"And we are to talk?" 

" Yes," he said, " talk and think ourselves to- 
gether oh! the old phrases carry it all fine 
God. . ." 



TR AFFORD DECIDES 427 

" It is what I dreamt of, Rag, years ago." 

" Will you come," he cried, " out of all this?" 

She leant across the hearthrug, and seized and 
kissed his hand. . . . 

Then, with one of those swift changes of hers, 
she was in revolt. " But, Rag," she exclaimed, " this 
is dreaming. We are not free. There are the chil- 
dren ! Rag ! We cannot leave the children !" 

" We can," he said. " We must." 

" But, my dear ! our duty ! 

" 7* it a mother's duty always to keep with her 
children? They will be looked after, their lives are 
organized, there is my mother close at hand. . . . 
What is the good of having chidren at all unless 
their world is to be better than our world ? . . .What 
are we doing to save them from the same bathos as 
this to which we have come? We give them food 
and health and pictures and lessons, that's all very 
well while they are just little children; but we've got 
no religion to give them, no aim, no sense of a gen- 
eral purpose. What is the good of bread and health 
and no worship ? . . . What can we say to them when 
they ask us why we brought them into the world? 
We happened you happened. What are we to tell 
them when they demand the purpose of all this train- 
ing, all these lessons? When they ask what we are 
preparing them for? Just that you, too, may have 
children! Is that any answer? Marjorie, it's com- 
mon-sense to try this over to make this last supreme 
effort just as it will be common-sense to separate 
if we can't get the puzzle solved together." 
"Separate!" 

" Separate. Why not ? We can afford it. Of 
course, we shall separate." 
" But Rag! separate!" 
He faced her protest squarely. " Life is not 



428 MARRIAGE 

worth living," he said, " unless it has more to hold 
it together than ours has now. If we cannot escape 
together, then I "mil go alone." . . . 

9 

They parted that night resolved to go to Labra- 
dor together, with the broad outline of their sub- 
sequent journey already drawn. Each lay awake 
far into the small hours thinking of this purpose and 
of one another, with a strange sense of renewed as- 
sociation. Each woke to a morning of sunshine 
heavy-eyed. Each found that overnight decision 
remote and incredible. It was like something in a 
book or a play that had moved them very deeply. 
They came down to breakfast, and helped themselves 
after the wonted fashion of several years, Marjorie 
with a skilful eye to the large order of her household ; 
the Times had one or two characteristic letters which 
interested them both ; there was the usual picturesque 
irruption of the children and a distribution of early 
strawberries among them. Trafford had two notes 
in his correspondence which threw a new light upon 
the reconstruction of the Norton-Batsford company 
in which he was interested ; he formed a definite con- 
clusion upon the situation, and went quite normally 
to his study and the telephone to act upon that. 

It was only as the morning wore on that it be- 
came real to him that he and Marjorie had decided to 
leave the world. Then, with the Norton-Batsford bus- 
iness settled, he sat at his desk and mused 1 . His 
apathy passed. His imagination began to present 
first one picture and then another of his retreat. 
He walked along Oxford Street to his Club thinking 
" soon we shall be out of all this." By the time he 
was at lunch in his Club, Labrador had become again 



TRAFFORD DECIDES 429 

the magic refuge it had seemed the day before. After 
lunch he went to work in the library, finding out 
books about Labrador, and looking up the details of 
the journey. 

But his sense of futility and hopeless oppression 
had vanished. He walked along the corridor and 
down the great staircase, and without a trace of the 
despairful hostility of the previous day, passed Blen- 
kins, talking grey bosh with infinite thoughtfulness. 
He nodded easily to Blenkins. He was going out of 
it all, as a man might do who discovers after years 
of weary incarceration that the walls of his cell are 
made of thin paper. The time when Blenkins seemed 
part of a prison-house of routine and invincible 
stupidity seemed ten ages ago. 

In Pall Mall Trafford remarked Lady Gram- 
pians and the Countess of Claridge, two women of 
great influence, in a big green car, on the way no 
doubt to create or sustain or destroy ; and it seemed 
to him that it was limitless ages since these poor old 
dears! with their ridiculous hats and their ridiculous 
airs, their luncheons and dinners and dirty aggressive 
old minds, had sent tidal waves of competitive anx- 
iety into his home. . . . 

He found himself jostling through the shopping 
crowd on the sunny side of Regent Street. He felt 
now that he looked over the swarming, preoccupied 
heads at distant things. He and Marjorie were go- 
ing out of it all, going clean out of it all. They were 
going to escape from society and shopping, and petty 
engagements and incessant triviality as a bird flies 
up out of weeds. 

10 

But Marjorie fluctuated more than he did. 
There were times when the expedition for which he 



430 MARRIAGE 

was now preparing rapidly and methodically seemed 
to her the most adventurously-beautiful thing that 
had ever come to her, and times when it seemed the 
maddest and most hopeless of eccentricities. There 
were times when she had devastating premonitions of 
filth, hunger, strain and fatigue, damp and cold, when 
her whole being recoiled from the project, when she 
could even think of staying secure in London and 
letting him go alone. She developed complicated 
anxieties for the children ; she found reasons for fur- 
ther inquiries, for delay. " Why not," she suggested, 
" wait a year ?" 

" No," he said, " I won't. I mean we are to do 
this, and do it now, and nothing but sheer physical 
inability to do it will prevent niy carrying it out. . . . 
And you? Of course you are to come. I can't drag 
you shrieking all the way to Labrador ; short of that 
I'm going to make you come with me." 

She sat and looked up at him with dark lights in 
her upturned eyes, and a little added warmth in her 
cheek. "You've never forced my will like this before," 
she said, in a low voice. " Never." 

He was too intent upon his own resolve to heed 
her tones. 

" It hasn't seemed necessary somehow," he said, 
considering her statement. " Now it does." 

" This is something final," she said. 

" It is final." 

She found an old familiar phrasing running 
through her head, as she sat crouched together, look- 
ing up at his rather gaunt, very intent face, the 
speech of another woman echoing to her across a vast 
space of years : " Whither thou goest I will go " 

" In Labrador," he began. . . . 



CHAPTER THE THIRD 

THE PILGRIMAGE TO LONELY HUT. 

1 

Marjorie was surprised to find how easy it was at 
last to part from her children and go with Trafford. 

" I am not sorry," she said, " not a bit sorry 
but I am fearfully afraid. I shall dream they are 
ill. . . . Apart from that, it's strange how you grip 
me and they don't. . . ." 

In the train to Liverpool she watched Trafford 
with the queer feeling which comes to all husbands 
and wives at times that that other partner is indeed 
an undiscovered stranger, just beginning to show per- 
plexing traits, full of inconceivable possibilities. 

For some reason his tearing her up by the roots 
in this fashion had fascinated her imagination. She 
felt a strange new wonder at him that had in it just 
a pleasant faint flavour of fear. Always before she 
had felt a curious aversion and contempt for those 
servile women who are said to seek a master, to want 
to be mastered, to be eager even for the physical 
subjugations of brute force. Now she could at least 
understand, sympathize even with them. Not only 
Trafford surprised her but herself. She found she was 
in an unwonted perplexing series of moods. All her 
feelings struck her now as being incorrect as well as 
unexpected; not only had life become suddenly full 
of novelty but she was making novel responses. She 
felt that she ought to be resentful and tragically 
sorry for her home and children. She felt this de- 
parture ought to have the quality of an immense sac- 
rifice, a desperate and heroic undertaking for Traf- 

431 



432 MARRIAGE 

ford's sake. Instead she could detect little beyond 
an adventurous exhilaration when presently she 
walked the deck of the steamer that was to take her 
to St. John's. She had visited her cabin, seen her 
luggage stowed away, and now she surveyed the 
Mersey and its shipping with a renewed freshness 
of mind. She was reminded of the clay, now nearly 
nine years ago, when she had crossed the sea for 
the first time to Italy. Then, too, Trafford had 
seemed a being of infinitely wonderful possibilities. 
.... What were the children doing? that ought 
to have been her preoccupation. She didn't know; 
she didn't care ! Trafford came and stood beside her, 
pointed out this and that upon the landing stage, 
no longer heavily sullen, but alert, interested, almost 
gay. . ^ . 

Neither of them could find any way to the great 
discussion they had set out upon, in this voyage to 
St. John's. But there was plenty of time before them. 
Plenty of time! They were both the prey of that 
uneasy distraction which seems the inevitable quality 
of a passenger steamship. They surveyed and criti- 
cized their fellow travellers, and prowled up and down 
through the long swaying days and the cold dark 
nights. They slept uneasily amidst fog-horn hoot- 
ings and the startling sounds of waves swirling 
against the ports. Marjorie had never had a long sea 
voyage before ; for the first time in her life she saw all 
the world, through a succession of days, as a circle of 
endless blue waters, with the stars and planets and 
sun and moon rising sharply from its rim. Until 
one has had a voyage no one really understands that 
old Earth is a watery globe. . . . They ran into 
thirty hours of storm, which subsided, and then came 
a slow time among icebergs, and a hooting, dreary 
passage through fog. The first three icebergs were 



THE PILGRIMAGE 483 

marvels, the rest bores; a passing collier out of her 
course and pitching heavily, a lonely black and dirty 
ship with a manner almost derelict, filled their 
thoughts for half a day. Their minds were in a state 
of tedious inactivity, eager for such small interests 
and only capable of such small interests. There was 
no hurry to talk, they agreed, no hurry at all, until 
they were settled away ahead there among the snows. 
" There we shall have plenty of time for every- 
thing. . . ." 

Came the landfall and then St. John's, and they 
found themselves side by side watching the town draw 
near. The thought of landing and transference to 
another ship refreshed them both. . . . 

They were going, Trafford said, in search of 
God, but it was far more like two children starting 
out upon a holiday. 

2 

There was trouble and procrastination about the 
half-breed guides that Trafford had arranged should 
meet them at St. John's, and it was three weeks from 
their reaching Newfoundland before they got them- 
selves and their guides and equipment and general 
stores aboard the boat for Port Dupre. Thence he 
had planned they should go in the Gibson schooner 
to Manivikovik, the Marconi station at the mouth 
of the Green River, and thence past the new pulp- 
mills up river to the wilderness. There were delays 
and a few trivial, troublesome complications in car- 
rying out this scheme, but at last a day came when 
Trafford could wave good-bye to the seven people 
and eleven dogs which constituted the population of 
Peter Hammond's, that last rude outpost of civili- 
zation twenty miles above the pulp-mill, and turn 
his face in good earnest towards the wilderness. 



434 MARRIAGE 

Neither he nor Marjorie looked back at the head- 
land for a last glimpse of the little settlement they 
were leaving. Each stared ahead over the broad, 
smooth sweep of water, broken by one transverse bar 
of foaming shallows, and scanned the low, tree-clad 
hills beyond that drew together at last in the dis- 
tant gorge out of which the river came. The morn- 
ing was warm and full of the promise of a hot noon, 
so that the veils they wore against the assaults of 
sand-flies and mosquitoes were already a little incon- 
venient. It seemed incredible in this morning glow 
that the wooded slopes along the shore of the lake 
were the border of a land in which nearly half the 
inhabitants die of starvation. The deep-laden canoes 
swept almost noiselessly through the water with a 
rhythmic alternation of rush and pause as the drip- 
ping paddles drove and returned. Altogether there 
were four long canoes and five Indian breeds in their 
party, and when they came to pass through shallows 
both Marjorie and Trafford took a paddle. 

They came to the throat of the gorge towards 
noon, and found strong flowing deep water between 
its high purple cliffs. All hands had to paddle again, 
and it was only when they came to rest in a pool to 
eat a midday meal and afterwards to land upon a 
mossy corner for a stretch and a smoke, that Mar- 
jorie discovered the peculiar beauty of the rock 
about them. On the dull purplish-grey surfaces 
played the most extraordinary mist of luminous 
iridescence. It fascinated her. Here was a land 
whose common substance had this gemlike opales- 
cence. But her attention was very soon withdrawn 
from these glancing splendours. 

She had had to put aside her veil to eat, and pre- 
sently she felt the vividly painful stabs of the black- 
fly and discovered blood upon her face. A bigger 



THE PILGRIMAGE 435 

fly, the size and something of the appearance of a 
small wasp, with an evil buzz, also assailed her and 
Trafford. It was a bad corner for flies ; the breeds 
even were slapping their wrists and swearing under 
the torment, and every one was glad to embark and 
push on up the winding gorge. It opened out for a 
time, and then the wooded shores crept in again, and 
in another half-hour they saw ahead of them a long 
rush of foaming waters among tumbled rocks that 
poured down from a brimming, splashing line of light 
against the sky. They crossed the river, ran the 
canoes into an eddy under the shelter of a big stone 
and began to unload. They had reached their first 
portage. 

The rest of the first day was spent in packing and 
lugging first the cargoes ajid then the canoes up 
through thickets and over boulders and across 
stretches of reindeer moss for the better part of two 
miles to a camping ground about half-way up the 
rapids. Marjorie and Trafford tried to help with the 
carrying, but this evidently shocked and distressed 
the men too much, so they desisted and set to work 
cutting wood and gathering moss for the fires and 
bedding for the camp. When the iron stove was 
brought up the man who had carried it showed them 
how to put it up on stakes and start a fire in it, and 
then Trafford went to the river to get water, and Mar- 
jorie made a kind of flour cake in the frying-pan in 
the manner an American woman from the wilderness 
had once shown her, and boiled water for tea. The 
twilight had deepened to night while the men were 
still stumbling up the trail with the last two canoes. 

It gave Marjorie a curiously homeless feeling to 
stand there in the open with the sunset dying away 
below the black scrubby outlines of the treetops up- 
hill to the northwest, and to realize the nearest roof 



436 MARRIAGE 

was already a day's toilsome journey away. The 
cool night breeze blew upon her bare face and arms 
for now the insects had ceased from troubling and 
she had cast aside gloves and veil and turned up her 
sleeves to cook and the air was full of the tumult 
of the rapids tearing seaward over the rocks below. 
Struggling through the bushes towards her was an 
immense, headless quadruped with unsteady legs 
and hesitating paces, two of the men carrying the 
last canoe. Two others were now assisting Trafford 
to put up the little tent that was to shelter her, and 
the fifth was kneeling beside her very solemnly and 
respectfully cutting slices of bacon for her to fry. 
The air was very sweet, and she wished she could 
sleep not in the tent but under the open sky. 

It was queer, she thought, how much of the wrap- 
pings of civilization had slipped from them already. 
Every day of the journey from London had re- 
leased them or deprived them she hardly knew 
which of a multitude of petty comforts and easy 
accessibilities. The afternoon toil uphill intensified 
the effect of having clambered up out of things to 
this loneliness, this twilight openness, this simplicity. 

The men ate apart at a fire they made for 
themselves, and after Trafford and Marjorie had 
supped on damper, bacon and tea, he smoked. They 
were both too healthily tired to talk very much. 
There was no moon but a frosty brilliance of stars, 
the air which had been hot and sultry at mid-day 
grew keen and penetrating, and after she had made 
him tell her the names of constellations she had for- 
gotten, she suddenly perceived the wisdom of the 
tent, went into it it was sweet and wonderful with 
sprigs of the Labrador tea-shrub undressed, and 
had hardly rolled herself up into a cocoon of blankets 
before she was fast asleep. 



THE PILGRIMAGE 437 

She was awakened by a blaze of sunshine pour- 
ing into the tent, a smell of fried bacon and Traf- 
ford's voice telling her to get up. " They've gone on 
with the first loads," he said. " Get up, wrap your- 
self in a blanket, and come and bathe in the river. 
It's as cold as ice." 

She blinked at him. "Aren't you stiff?" she 
asked. 

" I was stiffer before I bathed," he said. 

She took the tin he offered her. (They weren't to 
see china cups again for a year.) " It's woman's 
work getting tea," she said as she drank. 

" You can't be a squaw all at once," said Traf- 
ford. 

8 

After Marjorie had taken her dip, dried roughly 
behind a bush, twisted her hair into a pigtail and 
coiled it under her hat, she amused herself and Traf- 
f ord as they clambered up through rocks and willows 
to the tent again by cataloguing her apparatus of 
bath and toilette at Sussex Square and tracing just 
when and how she had parted from each item on the 
way to this place. 

" But I say!" she cried, with a sudden, sharp note 
of dismay, " we haven't soap ! This is our last cake 
almost. I never thought of soap." 

" Nor I," said Trafford. 

He spoke again presently. " We don't turn back 
for soap," he said. 

" We don't turn back for anything," said Mar- 
jorie. " Still I didn't count on a soapless winter." 

" I'll manage something," said Trafford, a little 
doubtfully. " Trust a chemist. ..." 

That day they finished the portage and came out 
upon a wide lake with sloping shores and a distant 



438 MARRIAGE 

view of snow-topped mountains, a lake so shallow that 
at times their loaded canoes scraped on the glaciated 
rock below and they had to alter their course. They 
camped in a lurid sunset; the night was warm and 
mosquitoes were troublesome, and towards morning 
came a thunderstorm and wind and rain. 

The dawn broke upon a tearing race of waves 
and a wild drift of slanting rain sweeping across the 
lake before a gale. Marjorie peered out at this as 
one peers out under the edge of an umbrella. It was 
manifestly impossible to go on, and they did nothing 
that day but run up a canvas shelter for the men and 
shift the tent behind a thicket of trees out of the full 
force of the wind. The men squatted stoically, and 
smoked and yarned 1 . Everything got coldly wet, and 
for the most part the Traffords sat under the tent 
and stared blankly at this summer day in Labrador. 

" Now," said Trafford, " we ought to begin talk- 
ing." 

" There's nothing much to do else," said Mar- 
jorie. 

" Only one can't begin," said Trafford. 

He was silent for a time. " We're getting out of 
things," he said. . . . 

The next day began with a fine drizzle through 
which the sun broke suddenly about ten o'clock. They 
made a start at once, and got a good dozen miles up 
the lake before it was necessary to camp again. Both 
Marjorie and Trafford felt stiff and weary and un- 
comfortable all day, and secretly a little doubtful 
now of their own endurance. They camped on an 
island on turf amidst slippery rocks, and the next 
day were in a foaming difficult river again, with 
glittering shallows that obliged every one to get out 
at times to wade and push. All through the after- 
noon they were greatly beset by flies. And so they 



THE PILGRIMAGE 439 

worked their way on through a third days' journey 
towards the silent inland of Labrador. 

Day followed; day of toilsome and often tedious 
travel ; they fought rapids, they waited while the men 
stumbled up long portages under vast loads, going 
and returning, they camped and discussed difficulties 
and alternatives. The flies sustained an unrelenting 
persecution, until faces were scarred in spite of veils 
and smoke fires, until wrists and necks were swollen 
and the blood in a fever. As they got higher and 
higher towards the central plateau, the mid-day heat 
increased and the nights grew colder, until they would 
find themselves toiling, wet with perspiration, over 
rocks that sheltered a fringe of ice beneath their 
shadows. The first fatigues and lassitudes, the shrink- 
ing from cold water, the ache of muscular effort, gave 
place to a tougher and tougher endurance; skin 
seemed to have lost half its capacity for pain without 
losing a tithe of its discrimination, muscles attained 
a steely resilience ; they were getting seasoned. " I 
don't feel philosophical," said Trafford, " but I feel 
well." 

" We're getting out of things." 

" Suppose we are getting out of our problems ! 

99 

One day as they paddled across a mile-long pool, 
they saw three bears prowling in single file high up on 
the hillside. " Look," said the man, and pointed with 
his paddle at the big, soft, furry black shapes, magni- 
fied and startling in the clear air. All the canoes 
rippled to a stop, the men, at first still, whispered 
softly. One passed a gun to Trafford, who hesitated 
and looked at Marjorie. 

The air of tranquil assurance about these three 
huge loafing monsters had a queer effect on Mar- 
jorie's mind. They made her feel that they were at 



440 MARRIAGE 

home and that she was an intruder. She had never 
in her life seen any big wild animals except in a 
menagerie. She had developed a sort of unconscious 
belief that all big wild animals were in menageries 
nowadays, and this spectacle of beasts entirely at 
large startled her. There was never a bar between 
these creatures, she felt, and her sleeping self. They 
might, she thought, do any desperate thing to feeble 
men and women who came their way. 

" Shall I take a shot?" asked Trafford. 

" No," said Marjorie, pervaded by the desire for 
mutual toleration. " Let them be." 

The big brutes disappeared in a gully, reappeared, 
came out against the skyline one by one and vanished. 

" Too long a shot," said Trafford, handing back 
the gun. . . . 

Their journey lasted altogether a month. Never 
once did they come upon any human being save them- 
selves, though in one place they passed the poles 
for the most part overthrown of an old Indian en- 
campment. But this desolation was by no means 
lifeless. They saw great quantities of waterbirds, 
geese, divers, Arctic partridge and the like, they be- 
came familiar with the banshee cry of the loon. They 
lived very largely on geese and partridge. Then for 
a time about a string of lakes, the country was alive 
with migrating deer going south, and the men found 
traces of a wolf. They killed six caribou, and stayed 
to skin and cut them up and dry the meat to replace 
the bacon they had consumed, caught, fried and ate 
great quantities of trout, and became accustomed to 
the mysterious dance of the northern lights as the 
sunset afterglow faded. 

Everywhere, except in the river gorges, the 
country displayed the low hummocky lines and tarn- 
like pools of intensely glaciated land; everywhere it 



THE PILGRIMAGE 441 

was carpeted with reindeer moss growing upon peat 
and variegated by bushes of flowering, sweet-smelling 
Labrador tea. In places this was starred with little 
harebells and diversified by tussocks of heather and 
rough grass, and over the rocks trailed delicate dwarf 
shrubs and a very pretty and fragrant pink-flowered 
plant of which neither she nor Trafford knew the 
name. There was an astonishing amount of wild 
fruit, raspberries, cranberries, and a white kind of 
strawberry that was very delightful. The weather, 
after its first outbreak, remained brightly serere. . . . 
And at last it seemed fit to Trafford to halt and 
choose his winter quarters. He chose a place on the 
side of a low, razor-hacked rocky mountain ridge, 
about fifty feet above the river which had now 
dwindled to a thirty-foot stream. His site was near 
a tributary rivulet that gave convenient water, in a 
kind of lap that sheltered between two rocky knees, 
each bearing thickets of willow and balsam. Not a 
dozen miles away from them now they reckoned was 
the Height of Land, the low watershed between the 
waters that go to the Atlantic and those that go to 
Hudson's Bay. Close beside the site he had chosen 
a shelf of rock ran out and gave a glimpse up the 
narrow rocky valley of the Green River's upper 
waters and a broad prospect of hill and tarn towards 
the*south-east. North and north-east of them the 
country rose to a line of low crests, with here and 
there a yellowing patch of last year's snow, and 
across the valley were slopes covered in places by 
woods of stunted pine. It had an empty spacious- 
ness of effect ; the one continually living thing seemed 
to be the Green River, hurrying headlong, noisily, 
perpetually, in an eternal flight from this high deso- 
lation. Birds were rare here, and the insects that 
buzzed and shrilled and tormented among the rocks 



442 MARRIAGE 

and willows in the gorge came but sparingly up the 
slopes to them. 

" Here presently," said Trafford, " we shall be in 
peace." 

" It is very lonely," said Marjorie. 

" The nearer to God." 

" Think ! Not one of these hills has ever had a 
name." 

"Well?" 

" It might be in some other planet." 

" Oh ! we'll christen them. That shall be Mar- 
jorie Ridge, and that Rag Valley. This space shall 
be oh! Bayswater! Before we've done with it, this 
place and every feature of it will be as familiar as 
Sussex Square. More so, for half the houses there 
would be stranger to us, if we could see inside them, 
than anything in this wilderness. ... As familiar, 
say as your drawing-room. That's better." 

Marjorie made no answer, but her eyes went 
from the reindeer moss and scrub and thickets of the 
foreground to the low rocky ridges that bounded the 
view north and east of them. The scattered bould- 
ers, the tangles of wood, the barren upper slopes, the 
dust-soiled survivals of the winter's snowfall, all con- 
tributed to an effect at once carelessly desert and 
hopelessly untidy. She looked westward, and her 
memory was full of interminable streaming rapids, 
wastes of icestriated rocks, tiresome struggles 
through woods and wild, wide stretches of tundura 
and tarn, trackless and treeless, infinitely desolate. 
It seemed to! her that the sea coast was but a step 
from London and ten thousand miles away from her. 



The men had engaged to build the framework of 
hut and store shed before returning, and to this under 



THE PILGRIMAGE 443 

Trafford's direction they now set themselves. They 
were all half-breeds, mingling with Indian with Scot- 
tish or French blood, sober and experienced men. 
Three were named Mackenzie, two brothers and a 
cousin, and another, Raymond Noyes, was a rela- 
tion and acquaintance of that George Elson who was 
with Wallace and Leonidas Hubbard, and afterwards 
guided Mrs. Hubbard in her crossing of Labrador. 
The fifth was a boy of eighteen named Lean. They 
were all familiar with the idea of summer travel in 
this country ; quite a number, a score or so that is to 
say, of adventurous people, including three or four 
women, had ventured far in the wake of the Hubbards 
into these great wildernesses during the decade that 
followed that first tragic experiment in which Hub- 
bard died. But that any one not of Indian or Es- 
quimaux blood should propose to face out the Labra- 
dor winter was a new thing to them. They were really 
very sceptical at the outset whether these two highly 
civilized-looking people would ever get up to the 
Height of Land at all, and it was still with mani- 
fest incredulity that they set about the building of 
the hut and the construction of the sleeping bunks 
for which they had brought up planking. A stream 
of speculative talk had flowed along beside Marjorie 
and Trafford ever since they had entered the Green 
River; and it didn't so much come to an end as get 
cut off at last by the necessity of their departure. 

Noyes would stand, holding a hammer and star- 
ing at the narrow little berth he was fixing together. 

" You'll not sleep in this," he said. 

" I will," replied Marjorie. 

" You'll come back with us." 

" Not me." 

" There'll be wolves come and howl." 

" Let 'em." 



444 MARRIAGE 

" They'll come right up to the door here. Winter 
makes 'em hid jus bold." 

Marjorie shrugged her shoulders. 

" It's that cold I've known a man have his nose 
froze while he lay in bed," said Noyes. 

" Up here?" 

" Down the coast. But they say it's 'most as cold 
up here. Many's the man it's starved and froze." . . . 

He and his companions told stories, very cir- 
cumstantial and pitiful stories, of Indian disasters. 
They were all tales of weariness and starvation, of the 
cessation of food, because the fishing gave out, be- 
cause the caribou did not migrate by the customary 
route, because the man of a family group broke his 
wrist, and then of the start of all or some of the party 
to the coast to get help and provisions, of the strain- 
ing, starving fugitives caught by blizzards, losing 
the track, devouring small vermin raw, gnawing their 
own skin garments until they toiled half-naked in the 
snow, becoming cannibals, becoming delirious, lying 
down to die. Once there was an epidemic of influenza, 
and three families of seven and twenty people just 
gave up and starved and died in their lodges, and 
were found, still partly frozen, a patient, pitiful com- 
pany, by trappers in the spring. . . . 

Such they said, were the common things that 
happened in a Labrador winter. Did the Traffords 
wish to run such risks? 

A sort of propagandist enthusiasm grew up in 
the men. They felt it incumbent upon them to per- 
suade the Traffords to return. They reasoned with 
them rather as one does with wilful children. They 
tried to remind them of the delights and securities of 
the world they were deserting. Noyes drew fancy 
pictures of the pleasures of London by way of con- 
trast to the bitter days before them. " You're got 



THE PILGRIMAGE 445 

everything there, everything. Suppose you feel a 
bit ill, you go out, and every block there's a drug 
store got everything all the new rem'dies p'raps 
twenty, thirty sorts of rem'dy. Lit up, nice. And 
chaps in collars like gentlemen. Or you feel a bit 
dull, and you go into the streets and there's people. 
Why ! when I was in New York I used to spend hours 
looking at the people. Hours ! And everything lit up, 
too. Sky signs ! Readin' everywhere. You can spend 
hours and hours in New York " 

" London," said Marjorie. 

" Well, London just going about and reading 
the things they stick up. Every blamed sort of thing. 
Or you say, let's go somewhere. Let's go out and be 
a bit lively. See? Up you get on a car and there you 
are! Great big restaurants, blazing with lights, and 
you can't think of a thing to* eat they haven't got. 
Waiters all round you, dressed tremendous, fair ask- 
ing you to have more. Or you say, let's go to a 
theatre. Very likely," said Noyes, letting his imagi- 
nation soar, " you order up one of these automo- 
bilHes." 

" By telephone," helped Trafford. 

" By telephone," confirmed Noyes. " When I 
was in New York there was a telephone in each room 
in the hotel. Each room. I didn't use it ever, except 
once when they didn't answer but there it was. I 
know about telephones all right! ..." 

Why had they come here ? None of the men were 
clear about that. Marjorie and Trafford would over- 
hear them discussing this question at their fire night 
after night; they seemed to talk of nothing else. 
They indulged in the boldest hypotheses, even in the 
theory that Trafford knew of deposits of diamonds 
and gold, and would trust no one but his wife with 
the secret. They seemed also attracted by the idea 



446 MARRIAGE 

that our two young people had " done something." 
Lean, with memories of some tattered sixpenny novel 
that had drifted into his hands from England, had 
even some notion of an elopement, of a pursuing hus- 
band or a vindictive wife. He was young and roman- 
tic, but it seemed incredible he should suggest that 
Marjorie was a royal princess. Yet there were mo- 
ments when his manner betrayed a more than per- 
sonal respect. . . . 

One night after a hard day's portage Mackenzie 
was inspired by a brilliant idea. " They got no 
children," he said, in a hoarse, exceptionally audible 
whisper. " It worries them. Them as is Catholics 
goes pilgrimages, but these ain't Catholics. See?" 

" I can't stand that," said Marjorie. " It touches 
my pride. I've stood a good deal. Mr. Mackenzie ! . . . 
Mr. . . . Mackenzie." 

The voice at the men's fire stopped and a black 
head turned around. " [What is it, Mrs. Trafford?" 
asked Mackenzie. 

She held up four fingers. " Four !" she said. 

"Eh?" 

" Three sons and a daughter," said Marjorie. 

Mackenzie did not take it in until his younger 
brother had repeated her words. 

" And you've come from them to this. . . . Sir, 
what have you come for?" 

" We want to be here," shouted Trafford to their 
listening pause. Their silence was incredulous. 

" We wanted to be alone together. There was too 
much over there too much everything." 

Mackenzie, in silhouette against the fire, shook his 
head, entirely dissatisfied. He could not understand 
how there could be too much of anything. It was 
beyond a trapper's philosophy. 



THE PILGRIMAGE 447 

" Come back with us sir," said Noyes. " You'll 
weary of it. ... " 

Noyes clung to the idea of dissuasion to the end. 
" I don't care to leave ye," he said, and made a sort 
of byword of it that served when there was nothing 
else to say. 

He made it almost his last words. He turned back 
for another handclasp as the others under their light 
returning packs were filing down the hill. 

" I don't care to leave ye," he said. 

" Good luck !" said Traff ord. 

" You'll need it," said Noyes, and looked at Mar- 
jorie very gravely and intently before he turned 
about and marched off after his fellows. . . . 

Both Marjorie and Trafford felt a queer emotion, 
a sense of loss and desertion, a swelling in the throat, 
as that file of men receded over the rocky slopes, went 
down into a dip, reappeared presently small and re- 
mote cresting another spur, going on towards the 
little wood that hid the head of the rapids. They 
halted for a moment on the edge of the wood and 
looked back, then turned again one by one and melted 
stride by stride into the trees. Noyes was the last to 
go. He stood, in an attitude that spoke as plainly 
as words, " I don't care to leave ye." Something 
white waved and flickered; he had whipped out the 
letters they had given him for England, and he was 
waving them. Then, as if by an effort, he set himself 
to follow the others, and the two still watchers on the 
height above saw him no more. 



CHAPTER THE FOURTH 

LONELY HUT 

1 

MARJOHIE and Trafford walked slowly back to the 
hut. " There is much to do before the weather breaks," 
he said, ending a thoughtful silence. " Then we can 
sit inside there and talk about the things we need to 
talk about." 

He added awkwardly : " Since we started, there 
has been so much to hold the attention. I remember 
a mood an immense despair. I feel it's still some- 
where at the back of things, waiting to be dealt with. 
It's our essential fact. But meanwhile we've been 
busy, looking at fresh things." 

He paused. " Now it will be different per- 
haps. ..." 

For nearly four weeks indeed they were occupied 
very closely, and crept into their bunks at night as 
tired as wholesome animals who drop to sleep. At 
any time the weather might break ; already there had 
been two overcast days and a frowning conference of 
clouds in the north. When at last storms began they 
knew there would be nothing for it but to keep in the 
hut until the world froze up. 

There was much to do to the hut. The absence of 
anything but stunted and impoverished timber and the 
limitation of time, had forbidden a log hut, and their 
home was really only a double framework, rammed 
tight between inner and outer frame with a mixture 
of earth and boughs and twigs of willow, pine and 
balsam. The floor was hammered earth carpeted with 
balsam twigs and a caribou skin. Outside and within 

448 



LONELY HUT 449 

wall and roof were faced with coarse canvas that 
was Trafford's idea and their bunks occupied two 
sides of the hut. Heating was done by the sheet-iron 
stove they had brought with them, and the smoke was 
carried out to the roof by a thin sheet-iron pipe 
which had come up outside a roll of canvas. They 
had made the roof with about the pitch of a Swiss 
chalet, and it was covered with nailed waterproof can- 
vas, held down by a large number of big lumps of 
stone. Much of the canvassing still remained to do 
when the men went down, and then the Traffords used 
every scrap of packing-paper and newspaper that 
had come up with them and was not needed for lining 
the bunks in covering any crack or join in the can- 
vas wall. 

Two decadent luxuries, a rubber bath and two 
rubber hot-water bottles, hung behind the door. They 
were almost the only luxuries. Kettles and pans and 
some provisions stood on a shelf over the stove ; there 
was also a sort of recess cupboard in the opposite 
corner, reserve clothes were in canvas trunks under 
the bunks, they kept their immediate supply of wood 
under the eaves just outside the door, and there was a 
big can of water between stove and door. When 
the winter came they would have to bring in ice from 
the stream. 

This was their home. The tent that had sheltered 
Marjorie on the way up was erected close to this hut 
to serve as a rude scullery and outhouse, and they 
also made a long, roughly thatched roof with a can- 
vas cover, supported on stakes, to shelter the rest of 
the stores. The stuff in tins and cases and jars they 
left on the ground under this; the rest the flour, 
candles, bacon, dried caribou beef, and so forth, they 
hung, as they hoped, out of the reach of any prowling 
beast. And finally and most important was the wood 



450 MARRIAGE 

pile. This they accumulated to the north and east 
of the hut, and all day long with a sort of ant-like 
perseverance Trafford added to it from the thickets 
below. Once or twice, however, tempted by the ap- 
pearance of birds, he went shooting, and one day he 
got five geese that they spent a day upon, plucking, 
cleaning, boiling and putting up in all their store 
of empty cans, letting the fat float and solidify on 
the top to preserve this addition to their provision 
until the advent of the frost rendered all other pre- 
servatives unnecessary. They also tried to catch 
trout down in the river below, but though they saw 
many fish the catch was less than a dozen. 

It was a discovery to both of them to find how 
companionable these occupations were, how much 
more side by side they could be amateurishly cleaning 
out a goose and disputing about its cooking, than 
they had ever contrived to be in Sussex Square. 

" These things are so infernally interesting," said 
Trafford, surveying the row of miscellaneous cans 
upon the stove he had packed with disarticulated 
goose. " But we didn't come here to picnic. All this 
is eating us up. I have a memory of some immense 
tragic purpose " 

" That tin's boiling!" screamed Marjorie sharply. 

He resumed his thread after an active interlude. 

" We'll keep the wolf from the door," he said. 

" Don't talk of wolves !" said Marjorie. 

" It is only when men have driven away the wolf 
from the door oh! altogether away, that they find 
despair in the sky? I wonder " 

" What?" asked Marjorie in his pause. 

" I wonder if there is nothing really in life but 
this, the food hunt and the love hunt. Is life just all 
hunger and need, and are we left with nothing 
nothing at all when these things are done? . . . 



LONELY HUT 451 

We're infernally uncomfortable here." 

"Oh, nonsense!" cried Marjorie. 

" Think of your carpets at home ! Think of the 
great, warm, beautiful house that wasn't big enough ! 
And yet here, we're happy." 

"We are happy," said Marjorie. struck by the 
thought. " Only " 

" Yes." 

" I'm afraid. And I long for the children. And 
the wind nips" 

" It may be those are good things for us. No ! 
This is just a lark as yet, Marjorie. It's still fresh 
and full of distractions. The discomforts are amus- 
ing. Presently we'll get used to it. Then we'll 
talk out what we have to talk out. ... I say, 
wouldn't it keep and improve this goose of ours if 
we put in a little brandy? 

2 

The weather broke at last. One might say it 
smashed itself over their heads. There came an after- 
noon darkness swift and sudden, a wild gale and an 
icy sleet that gave place in the night to snow, so that 
Trafford looked out next morning to see a maddening 
chaos of small white flakes, incredibly swift, against 
something that was neither darkness nor light. Even 
with the door but partly ajar a cruelty of cold put 
its claw within, set everything that was moveable 
swaying and clattering, and made Marjorie hasten 
shuddering to heap fresh logs upon the fire. Once or 
twice Trafford went out to inspect tent and roof and 
store-shed, several times wrapped to the nose he 
battled his way for fresh wood, and for the rest of 
the blizzard they kept to the hut. It was slumberously 
stuffy, but comfortingly full of flavours of tobacco 



452 MARRIAGE 

and food. There were two days of intermission and 
a day of gusts and icy sleet again, turning with one 
extraordinary clap of thunder to a wild downpour of 
dancing lumps of ice, and then a night when it seemed 
all Labrador, earth and sky together, was in hysteri- 
cal protest against inconceivable wrongs. 

And then the break was over; the annual freez- 
ing-up was accomplished, winter had established it- 
self, the snowfall moderated and ceased, and an ice- 
bound world shone white and sunlit under a cloudless 
sky. 

9 

Through all that time they got no further with the 
great discussion for which they had faced that soli- 
tude. They attempted beginnings. 

"Where had we got to when we left England?" 
cried Marjorie. " You couldn't work, you couldn't 
rest you hatedi our life." 

" Yes, I know. I had a violent hatred of the 
lives we were leading. I thought we had to get 
away. To think. . . . But things don't leave us 
alone here." 

He covered his face with his hands. 

" Why did we come here?" he asked. 

" You wanted to get out of things." 

" Yes. But with you. . . . Have we, after all, 
got out of things at all? I said coming up, perhaps 
we were leaving our own problem behind. In ex- 
change for other problems old problems men have 
had( before. We've got nearer necessity; that's all. 
Things press on us just as much. There's nothing 
more fundamental in wild nature, nothing profounder 
only something earlier. One doesn't get out of life 
by going here or there. . . . But I wanted to get 



LONELY HUT 453 

you away from all things that had such a hold on 
you. . . . 

" When one lies awake at nights, then one seems 
to get down into things. ..." 

He went to the door, opened it, and stood looking 
out. Against a wan daylight the snow was falling 
noiselessly and steadily. 

" Everything goes on," he said. ..." Relent- 
lessly. ..." 

4 

That was as far as they had got when the storms 
ceased and they came out again into an air inexpres- 
sibly fresh and sharp and sweet, and into a world 
blindingly clean and golden white under the rays of 
the morning sun. 

" We will build a fire out here," said Marjorie; 
" make a great pile. There is no reason at all why 
we shouldn't live outside all through the day in such 
weather as this." 



One morning Trafford found the footmarks of 
some catlike creature in the snow near the bushes 
where he was accustomed to get firewood; they led 
away very plainly up the hill, and after breakfast he 
took his knife and rifle and snowshoes and went after 
the lynx for that he decided the animal must 
be. There was no urgent reason why he should want 
to kill a lynx, unless perhaps that killing it made the 
store shed a trifle safer ; but it was the first trail of 
any living thing for many days ; it promised excite- 
ment; some primordial instinct perhaps urged him. 

The morning was a little overcast, and very cold 
between the gleams of wintry sunshine. " Good-bye, 
<Jear wife I" he said, and then as she remembered af- 



454 MARRIAGE 

terwards came back a dozen yards to kiss her. " I'll 
not be long," he said. " The beast's prowling, and 
if it doesn't get wind of me I ought to find it in an 
hour." He hesitated for a moment. " I'll not be 
long," he repeated, and she had an instant's wonder 
whether he hid from her the same dread of loneliness 
that she concealed. Or perhaps he only knew her 
secret. Up among the tumbled rocks he turned, and 
she was still watching him. " Good-bye !" he cried 
and waved, and the willow thickets closed about him. 
She forced herself to the petty duties of the day, 
made up the fire from the pile he had left for her, 
set water to boil, put the hut in order, brought out 
sheets and blankets to air and set herself to wash up. 
She wished she had been able to goi with him. The 
sky cleared presently, and the low December sun lit 
all the world about her, but it left her spirit desolate. 
She did not expect him to return until mid-day, 
and she sat herself down; on a log before the fire to 
darn a pair of socks as well as she could. For a time 
this unusual occupation held her attention and then 
her hands became slow and at last inactive, and she 
fell into reverie. She thought at first of her chil- 
dren and what they might be doing, in England 
across there to the east it would be about five hours 
later, four o'clock in the afternoon, and the children 
would be coming home through the warm muggy Lon- 
don sunshine with Fraulein Otto to tea. She wondered 
if they had the proper clothes, if they were well; 
were they perhaps quarrelling or being naughty or 
skylarking gaily across the Park. Of course Frau- 
lein Otto was all right, quite to be trusted, absolutely 
trustworthy, and their grandmother would watch for 
a flushed face or an irrational petulance or any of 
the little signs that herald trouble with more than a 
mother's instinctive alertness. No need to worry 



LONELY HUT 455 

about the children, no need whatever. . . . The 
world of London! opened out behind these thoughts; 
it was so queer to think that she was in almost the 
same latitude as the busy bright traffic of the autumn 
season in Kensington Gore; that away there in ten 
thousand cleverly furnished drawing-rooms the ring- 
ing tea things were being set out for the rustling ad- 
vent of smart callers and the quick leaping gossip. 
And there would be all sorts of cakes and little things ; 
for a while her mind ran on cakes and little things, 
and she thought in particular whether it wasn't time 
to begin cooking. . . . Not yet. What was it she 
had been thinking about? Ah! the Solomonsons and 
the Capeses and the Bernards and the Carmels and 
the Lees. Would they talk of her and Trafford? It 
would be strange to go back to it all. Would they go 
back to it all? She found herself thinking intently 
of Trafford. 

What a fine human being he was! And how 
touchingly human! The thoughts of his moments of 
irritation, his baffled silences, filled her with a wild 
passion of tenderness. She had disappointed him; 
all that life failed to satisfy him. Dear master of her 
life ! what was it he needed ? She too wasn't satisfied 
with life, but while she had been able to assuage herself 
with a perpetual series of petty excitements, theatres, 
new books and new people, meetings, movements, din- 
ners, shows, he had grown to an immense discontent. 
He had most of the things men sought, wealth, re- 
spect, love, children. ... So many men might 
have blunted their heart-ache with adventures. 
There were pretty women, clever women, unoccupied 
women. She felt she wouldn't have minded much 
if it made him happy. ... It was so wonderful he 
loved her still. ... It wasn't that he lacked occu- 
pation ; on the whole he overworked. His business in- 



456 MARRIAGE 

terests were big and wide. Ought he to go into poli- 
tics? Why was it that the researches that had held 
him once, could hold him now no more? That was 
the real pity of it. Was she to blame for that? She 
couldn't state a case against herself, and yet she felt 
she was to blame. She had taken him away from 
those things, forced him to make money. . . . 

She sat chin on hand staring into the fire, the 
sock forgotten on her knee. 

She could not weigh justice between herself and 
him. If he was unhappy it was her fault. She knew 
that with a woman's irrational simplicity of convic- 
tion; if he was unhappy it was no excuse that she 
had not known, had been misled, had a right to her 
own instincts and purposes. She had got to make 
him happy. But what was she to do, what was there 
for her to do? . . . 

Only he could work out his own salvation, and 
until he had light, all she could do was to stand by 
him, help him, cease to irritate him, watch, wait. 
Anyhow she could at least mend his socks as well as 
possible, so that the threads would not chafe him. . . . 

She flashed to her feet. What was that? 

It seemed to her she had heard the sound of a 
shot, and a quick brief wake of echoes. She looked 
across the icy waste of the river, and then up the 
tangled slopes of the mountain. Her heart was beat- 
ing very fast. It must have been up there, and no 
doubt he had killed his beast. Some shadow of doubt 
she would not admit crossed that obvious suggestion. 

This wilderness was making her as nervously re- 
sponsive as a creature of the wild. 

Came a second shot ; this time there was no doubt 
of it. Then the desolate silence closed about her 
again. 



LONELY HUT 457 

She stood for a long time staring at the shrubby 
slopes that rose to the barren rock wilderness of the 
purple mountain crest. She sighed deeply at last, and 
set herself to make up the fire and prepare for the 
mid-day meal. Once far away across the river she 
heard the howl of a wolf. 

Time seemed to pass very slowly that day. She 
found herself going repeatedly to the space between 
the day tent and the sleeping hut from which she 
could see the stunted wood that had swallowed him 
up, and after what seemed a long hour her watch 
told her it was still only half-past twelve. And the 
fourth or fifth time that she went to look out she was 
set atremble again by the sound of a third shot. And 
then at regular intervals out of that distant brown 
purple jumble of thickets against the snow came two 
more shots. " Something has happened," she said, 
" something has happened," and stood rigid. Then 
she became active, seized the rifle that was always at 
hand when she was alone, fired into the sky and stood 
listening. 

Prompt come an answering shot. 

" He wants me," said Marjorie. " Something 

Perhaps he has killed something too big to bring!" 

She was for starting at once, and then remembered 
this was not the way of the wilderness. 

She thought and moved very rapidly. Her mind 
catalogued possible requirements, rifle, hunting knife, 
the oilskin bag with matches, and some chunks of dry 
paper, the rucksac and he would be hungry. She 
took a saucepan and a huge chunk of cheese and 
biscuit. Then a brandy flask is sometimes handy 
one never knows. Though nothing was wrong, of 
course. Needles and stout thread, and some cord. 
Snowshoes. A waterproof cloak could be easily car- 
ried. Her light hatchet for wood. She cast about 



458 MARRIAGE 

to see if there was anything else. She had almost 
forgotten cartridges and a revolver. Nothing more. 
She kicked a stray brand or so into the fire, put on 
some more wood, damped the fire with an armful of 
snow to make it last longer, and set out towards the 
willows into which he had vanished. 

There was a rustling and snapping of branches 
as she pushed her way through the bushes, a little 
stir that died insensibly into quiet again ; and then the 
camping place became very still. . . . 

Scarcely a sound occurred, except for the little 
shuddering and stirring of the fire, and the reluctant, 
infrequent drip from the icicles along the sunny edge 
of the log hut roof. About one o'clock the amber 
sunshine faded out altogether, a veil of clouds thick- 
ened and became greyly ominous, and a little after 
two the first flakes of a snowstorm fell hissing into 
the fire. A wind rose and drove the multiplying snow- 
flakes in whirls and eddies before it. The icicles 
ceased to drip, but one or two broke and fell with a 
weak tinkling. A deep soughing, a shuddering groan- 
ing of trees and shrubs, came ever and again out of 
the ravine, and the powdery snow blew like puffs of 
smoke from the branches. 

By four the fire was out, and the snow was piling 
high in the darkling twilight against tent and hut. . . . 



Trafford's trail led Marjorie through the thicket 
of dwarf willows and down to the gully of the rivulet 
which they had called Marjorie Trickle; it had long 
since become a trough of snow-covered rotten ice ; the 
trail crossed this and, turning sharply uphill, went 
on until it was clear of shrubs and trees, and in the 
windy open of the upper slopes it crossed a ridge and 



LONELY HUT 459 

came over the lip of a large desolate valley with slopes 
of ice and icy snow. Here she spent some time in 
following his loops back on the homeward trail be- 
fore she saw what was manifestly the final trail run- 
ning far away out across the snow, with the spoor of 
the lynx, a lightly-dotted line, to the right of it. She 
followed this suggestion of the trail, put on her snow- 
shoes, and shuffled her way across this valley, which 
opened as she proceeded. She hoped that over the 
ridge she would find Trafford, and scanned the sky 
for the faintest discolouration of a fire, but there was 
none. That seemed odd to her, but the wind was in 
her face, and perhaps it beat the smoke down. Then 
as her eyes scanned the hummocky ridge ahead, she 
saw something, something very intent and still, that 
brought her heart into her mouth. It was a big, grey 
wolf, standing with back haunched and head down, 
watching and winding something beyond there, out 
of sight. 

Mar j one had an instinctive fear of wild animals, 
and it still seemed dreadful to her that they should go 
at large, uncaged. She suddenly wanted Trafford 
violently, wanted him by her side. Also she thought 
of leaving the trail, going back to the bushes. She 
had to take herself in hand. In the wastes one did 
not fear wild beasts. One had no fear of them. But 
why not fire a shot to let him know she was near? 

The beast flashed round with an animal's instan- 
taneous change of pose, and looked at her. For a 
couple of seconds, perhaps, woman and brute re- 
garded one another across a quarter of a mile of 
snowy desolation. 

Suppose it came towards her! 

She would fire and she would fire at it. She 
made a guess at the range and aimed very carefully. 
She saw the snow fly two yards ahead of the grisly 



460 MARRIAGE 

shape, and then in an instant it had vanished over the 
crest. 

She reloaded, and stood for a moment waiting for 
Trafford's answer. No answer came. " Queer !" she 
whispered, " queer !" and suddenly such a horror of 
anticipation assailed her that she started running and 
floundering through the snow to escape it. Twice she 
called his name, and once she just stopped herself 
from firing a shot. 

Over the ridge she would find him. Surely she 
would find him over the ridge. 

She found herself among rocks, and there was a 
beaten and trampled place where Trafford must have 
waited and crouched. Then on and down a slope of 
tumbled boulders. There came a patch where he 
had either thrown himself down or fallen. 

It seemed to her he must have been running 

Suddenly, a hundred feet or so away, she saw a 
patch of violently disturbed snow snow stained a 
dreadful colour, a snow of scarlet crystals! Three 
strides and Trafford was in sight. 

She had a swift conviction he was dead. He was 
lying in a crumpled attitude on a patch of snow 
between convergent rocks, and the lynx, a mass of 
blood smeared silvery fur, was in some way mixed up 
with him. She saw as she came nearer that the snow 
was disturbed round about them, and discoloured 
copiously, yellow widely, and in places bright red, 
with congealed and frozen blood. She felt no fear 
now, and no emotion ; all her mind was engaged with 
the clear, bleak perception of the fact before her. 
She did not care to call to him again. His head was 
hidden by the lynx's body, it was as if he was burrow- 
ing underneath the creature; his legs were twisted 
about each other in a queer, unnatural attitude. 

Then, as she dropped off a boulder, and came 
nearer, Trafford moved. A hand came out and 



LONELY HUT 461 

gripped the rifle beside him; he suddenly lifted a 
dreadful face, horribly scarred and torn, and crim- 
son with frozen blood; he pushed the grey beast aside, 
rose on an elbow, wiped his sleeve across his eyes, 
stared at her, grunted, and flopped forward. He 
had fainted. 

She was now as clear-minded and as self-possessed 
as a woman in a shop. In another moment she was 
kneeling by his side. She saw, by the position of his 
knife and the huge rip in the beast's body, that he 
had stabbed the lynx to death as it clawed his head ; 
he must have shot and wounded it and then fallen 
upon it. His knitted cap was torn to ribbons, and 
hung upon his neck. Also his leg was manifestly 
injured; how, she could not tell. It was chiefly evi- 
dent he must freeze if he lay here. It seemed to her 
that perhaps he had pulled the dead brute over him 
to protect his torn skin from the extremity of cold. 
The lynx was already rigid, its clumsy paws asprawl 
the torn skin and clot upon Trafford's face was 
stiff as she put her hands about his head to raise 
him. She turned him over on his back how heavy 
he seemed! and forced brandy between his teeth. 
Then, after a moment's hesitation, she poured a little 
brandy on his wounds. 

She glanced at his leg, which was surely broken, 
and back at his face. Then she gave him more brandy 
and his eyelids flickered. He moved his hand weakly. 
" The blood," he said, " kept getting in my eyes." 

She gave him brandy! once again, wiped his face 
and glanced at his leg. Something ought to be done 
to that she thought. But things must be done in 
order. 

She stared up at the darkling sky with its grey 
promise of snow, and down the slopes of the moun- 
tain. Clearly they must) stay the night here. They 



462 MARRIAGE 

were too high for wood among these rocks, but three 
or four hundred yards below there were a number of 
dwarfed fir trees. She had brought an axe, so that 
a fire was possible. Should she go back to camp and 
get the tent? 

Trafford was trying to speak again. " I got " 

he said. 

"Yes?" 

" Got my leg in that crack. Damn damned 
nuisance." 

Was he able to advise her? She looked at him, 
and then perceived she must bind up his head and 
face. She knelt behind him, and raised his head on 
her knee. She had a thick silk neck muffler, and this 
she supplemented by a band she cut and tore from 
her inner vest. She bound this, still warm from her 
body, about him, wrapped her cloak round him. The 
next thing was a fire. Five yards away, perhaps, a 
great mass of purple gabbro hung over a patch of 
nearly snowless moss. A hummock to the westward 
offered shelter from the weakly bitter wind, the icy 
draught, that was soughing down the valley. Al- 
ways in Labrador, if you can, you camp against a 
rock surface; it shelters you from the wind, reflects 
your fire, guards your back. 

"Rag!" she said. 

" Rotten hole," said Trafford. 

" What ?" she cried sharply. 

" Got you in a rotten hole," he said. " Eh?" 

" Listen," she said, and shook his shoulder. 
" Look ! I want to get you up against that rock." 

" Won't make much difference," said Trafford, 
and opened his eyes. " Where ?" he asked. 

" There." 

He remained quite quiet for a second perhaps. 
" Listen to me," he said. " Go back to camp." 



LONELY HUT 463 

" Yes," she said. 

" Go back to camp. Make a pack of all the 
strongest food strenthin' strengthrin' food you 
know?" He seemed troubled to express himself. 

" Yes," she said. 

" Down the river. Down down. Till you meet 
help." 

" Leave you?" 

He nodded his head and winced. 

" You're always plucky,*' he said. " Look facts in 
the face. Kiddies. Thought it over while you were 
coming." A tear oozed from his eye. " Not be a 
fool, Madge. Kiss me good-bye. Not be a fool. I'm 
done. Kids." 

She stared at him and her spirit was a luminous 
mist of tears. " You old coward," she said in his ear, 
and kissed the little patch of rough and bloody cheek 
beneath his eye. Then she knelt up beside him. 
" I'm boss now, old man," she said. " I want to get 
you to that place there under the rock. If I drag, 
can you help?" 

He answered obstinately : " You'd better go." 

" I'll make you comfortable first," she answered, 
" anyhow." 

He made an enormous effort, and then with her 
quick help and with his back to her knee, had raised 
himself on his elbows. 

" And afterwards ?" he asked. 

" Build a fire." 

"Wood?" 

" Down there." 

" Two bits of wood tied on my leg splints. Then 
I can drag myself. See? Like a blessed old walrus." 

He smiled, and she kissed his bandaged face again. 

" Else it hurts," he apologized, " more than I can 
stand." 



464 MARRIAGE 

She stood up again, thought, put his rifle and 
knife to his hand for fear of that lurking wolf, aban- 
doning her own rifle with an effort, and went striding 
and leaping from rock to rock towards the trees be- 
low. She made the chips fly, and was presently towing 
three venerable pine dwarfs, bumping over rock and 
crevice, back to Trafford. She flung them down, 
stood for a moment bright and breathless, then set 
herself to hack off the splints he needed from the 
biggest stem. "Now," she said, coming to him. 

" A fool," he remarked, " would have made the 
splints down there. You're good, Marjorie." 

She lugged his leg out straight, put it into the 
natural and least painful pose, padded it with moss 
and her torn handkerchief, and bound it up. As she 
did so a handful of snowflakes came whirling about 
them. She was now braced up to every possibility. 
" It never rains," she said grimly, " but it pours," 
and went on with her bone-setting. He was badly 
weakened by pain and shock, and once he swore at 
her sharply. "Sorry," he said. 

She rolled him over on his chest, and left him to 
struggle to the shelter of the rock while she went for 
more wood. 

The sky alarmed her. The mountains up the 
valley were already hidden by driven rags of slaty 
snowstorms. This time she found a longer but easier 
path for dragging her boughs and trees ; she deter- 
mined she would not start the fire until nightfall, nor 
waste any time in preparing food until then. There 
were dead boughs for kindling more than enough. 
It was snowing quite fast by the time she got up to 
him with her second load, and a premature twilight 
already obscured and exaggerated the rocks and 
mounds about her. She gave some of her cheese to 
Trafford, and gnawed some herself on her way down 



LONELY HUT 465 

to the wood again. She regretted that she had 
brought neither candles nor lantern, because then she 
might have kept on until the cold of night stopped 
her, and she reproached herself bitterly because she 
had brought no tea. She could forgive herself the 
lantern, she had never expected to be out after dark, 
but the tea was inexcusable. She muttered self-re- 
proaches while she worked like two men among the 
trees, panting puffs of mist that froze upon her lips 
and iced the knitted wool that covered her chin. Why 
don't they teach a girl to handle an axe? . . . 

When at last the wolfish cold of the Labrador 
night had come, it found Trafford and Marjorie 
seated almost warmly on a bed of pine boughs between 
the sheltering dark rock behind and a big but well 
husbanded fire in front, drinking a queer-tasting but 
not unsavory soup of lynx-flesh, that she had forti- 
fied with the remainder of the brandy. Then they 
tried roast lynx and ate a little, and finished with 
some scraps of cheese and deep draughts of hot water. 
Then oh Tyburnia and Chelsea and all that is be- 
coming! they smoked Trafford's pipe for alternate 
minutes, and Marjorie found great comfort in it. 

The snowstorm poured incessantly out of the 
darkness to become flakes of burning fire in the light 
of the flames, flakes that vanished magically, but it 
only reached them and wetted them in occasional 
gusts. What did it matter for the moment if the dim 
snow-heaps rose and rose about them? A glorious 
fatigue, an immense self-satisfaction possessed Mar- 
j one ; she felt that they had both done well. 

" I am not afraid of to-morrow now," she said at 
last a thought matured. "No!" 

Trafford had the pipe and did not speak for a 
moment. " Nor I," he said at last. " Very likely 
we'll get through with it." He added after a pause : 



466 MARRIAGE 

" I thought I was done for. A man loses heart. 
After a loss of blood." 

" The leg's better?" 

" Hot as fire." His humour hadn't left him. " It's 
a treat," he said. " The hottest thing in Labrador." 

" I've been a good squaw this time, old man?" she 
asked suddenly. 

^ He seemed not to hear her ; then his lips twitched 
and he made a feeble movement for her hand. " I 
cursed you," he said. . . . 

She slept, but on a spring as it were, lest the fire 
should fall. She replenished it with boughs, tucked in 
the half-burnt logs, and went to sleep again. Then it 
seemed to her that some invisible hand was pouring a 
thin spirit on the flames that made them leap and 
crackle and spread north and south until they filled 
the heavens. Her eyes were open and the snowstorm 
overpast, leaving the sky clear, and all the westward 
heaven alight with the trailing, crackling, leaping 
curtains of the Aurora, brighter than she had ever 
seen them before. Quite clearly visible beyond the 
smoulder of the fire, a wintry waste of rock and snow, 
boulder beyond boulder, passed into a dun obscurity. 
The mountain to the right of them lay long and white 
and stiff, a shrouded death. All earth was dead and 
waste and nothing, and the sky alive and coldly mar- 
vellous, signalling and astir. She watched the chang- 
ing, shifting colours, and they made her think of the 
gathering banners of inhuman hosts, the stir and mar- 
shalling of icy giants for ends stupendous and indif- 
ferent to all the trivial impertinence of man's exist- 
ence 

That night the whole world of man seemed small 
and shallow and insecure to her, beyond comparison. 
One came, she thought, but just a little way out of its 
warm and sociable cities hither, and found this home- 



LONELY HUT 467 

less wilderness ; one pricked the thin appearances of 
life with microscope or telescope and came to an equal 
strangeness. All the pride and hope of human life 
goes to and fro in a little shell of air between this 
ancient globe of rusty nickel-steel and the void of 
space; faint specks we are within a film; we quiver 
between the atom and the infinite, being hardly more 
substantial than the glow within an oily skin that 
drifts upon the water. The wonder and the riddle of 
it ! Here she and Trafford were ! Phantasmal shapes 
of unsubstantial fluid thinly skinned against evapora- 
tion and wrapped about with woven wool and the 
skins of beasts, that yet reflected and perceived, suf- 
fered and sought to understand; that held a million 
memories, framed thoughts that plumbed the deeps of 
space and time, and another day of snow or icy 
wind might leave them just scattered bones and torn 
rags gnawed by a famishing wolf ! . . . 

She felt a passionate desire to pray. . . . 

She glanced at Trafford beside her, and found 
him awake and staring. His face was very pale and 
strange in that livid, flickering light. She would have 
spoken, and then she saw his lips were moving, and 
something, something she did not understand, held 
her back from doing so. 



The bleak, slow dawn found Marjorie intently 
busy. She had made up the fire, boiled water and 
washed and dressed Trafford's wounds, and made 
another soup of lynx. But Trafford had weakened 
in the night, the stuff nauseated him, he refused it and 
tried to smoke and was sick, and then sat back rather 
despairfully after a second attempt to persuade her 
to leave him there to die. This failure of his' spirit 



468 MARRIAGE 

distressed her and a little astonished her, but it only 
made her more resolute to go through with her work. 
She had awakened cold, stiff and weary, but her fa- 
tigue vanished with movement ; she toiled for an hour 
replenishing her pile of fuel, made up the fire, put his 
gun ready to his hand, kissed him, abused him loving- 
ly for the trouble he gave her until his poor torn face 
lit in response, and then parting on a note of cheerful 
confidence set out to return to the hut. She found the 
way not altogether easy to make out, wind and snow 
had left scarcely a trace of their tracks, and her mind 
was full of the stores she must bring and the possibil- 
ity of moving him nearer to the hut. She was startled 
to see by the fresh, deep spoor along the ridge how 
near the wolf had dared approach them in the dark- 
ness. . . . 

Ever and again Marjorie had to halt and look 
back to get her direction right. As it was she came 
through the willow scrub nearly half a mile above the 
hut, and had to follow the steep bank of the frozen 
river down. At one place she nearly slipped upon an 
icy slope of rock. 

One possibility she did not dare to think of during 
that time ; a blizzard now would cut her off absolutely 
from any return to Trafford. Short of that she be- 
lieved she could get through. 

Her quick mind was full of all she had to do. At 
first she had thought chiefly of his immediate neces- 
sities, of food and some sort of shelter. She had got 
a list of things in her head meat extract, bandages, 
corrosive sublimate by way of antiseptic, brandy, a 
tin of beef, some bread and so forth; she went over 
that several times to be sure of it, and then for a time 
she puzzled about a tent. She thought she could 
manage a bale of blankets on her back, and that she 
could rig a sleeping tent for herself and Trafford with 



LONELY HUT 469 

one and some bent sticks. The big tent would be too 
much to strike and shift. And then her mind went on 
to a bolder enterprise, which was to get him home. 
The nearer she could bring him to the log hut, the 
nearer they would be to supplies. She cast about for 
some sort of sledge. The snow was too soft and broken 
for runners, especially among the trees, but if she 
could get a flat of smooth wood she thought she might 
be able to drag him. She decided to try the side of 
her bunk. She could easily get that off. She would 
have, of course, to run it edgewise through the thick- 
ets and across the ravine, but after that she would 
have almost clear going until she reached the steep 
place of broken rocks within two hundred yards of 
him. The idea of a sledge grew upon her, and she 
planned to nail a rope along the edge and make a 
kind of harness for herself. 

She found the camping-place piled high with 
drifted snow, which had invaded tent and hut, and 
that some beast, a wolverine she guessed, had been in- 
to the hut, devoured every candle-end and the uppers 
of Trafford's well-greased second boots, and had then 
gone to the corner of the store shed and clambered up 
to the stores. She made no account of its depreda- 
tions there, but set herself to make a sledge and get 
her supplies together. There was a gleam of sun- 
shine, but she did not like the look of the sky, and she 
was horribly afraid of what might be happening to 
Trafford. She carried her stuff through the wood 
and across the ravine, and returned for her impro- 
vised sledge. She was still struggling with that among 
the trees when it began to snow again. 

It was hard then not to be frantic in her efforts. 
As it was, she packed her stuff so loosely on the plank- 
ing that she had to repack it, and she started without 
putting on her snowshoes. and floundered fifty yards 



470 MARRIAGE 

before she discovered that omission. The snow was 
now falling fast, darkling the sky and hiding every- 
thing but objects close at hand, and she had to use all 
her wits to determine her direction ; she knew she must 
go down a long slope and then up to the ridge, and it 
came to her as a happy inspiration that if she bore to 
the left she might strike some recognizable vestige of 
her morning's trail. She had read of people walking 
in circles when they have no light or guidance, and 
that troubled her until she bethought herself of the 
little compass on her watch chain. By that she kept 
her direction. She wished very much she had timed 
herself across the waste, so that she could tell when 
she approached the ridge. 

Soon her back and shoulders were aching violent- 
ly, and the rope across her chest was tugging like 
some evil-tempered thing. But she did not dare to 
rest. The snow was now falling thick and fast, the 
flakes traced white spirals and made her head spin, so 
that she was constantly falling away to the south- 
westward and then correcting herself by the compass. 
She tried to think how this zig-zagging might affect 
her course, but the snow whirls confused her mind and 
a growing anxiety would not let her pause to think. 
She felt blinded; it seemed to be snowing inside her 
eyes so that she wanted to rub them. Soon the 
ground must rise to the ridge, she told herself; it 
must surely rise. Then the sledge came bumping at 
her heels and she perceived she was going down hill. 
She consulted the compass, and she found she was fac- 
ing south. She turned sharply to the right again. 
The jmowfall became a noiseless, pitiless torture to 
sight and mind. 

The sledge behind her struggled to hold her back, 
and the snow balled under her snowshoes. She wanted 
to stop and rest, take thought, sit for a moment. She 



LONELY HUT 471 

struggled with herself and kept on. She tried walk- 
ing with shut eyes, and tripped and came near sprawl- 
ing. " Oh God !" she cried, " oh God !" too stupefied 
for more articulate prayers. 

Would the rise of the ground to the ribs of rock 
never come? 

A figure, black and erect, stood in front of her 
suddenly, and beyond appeared a group of black, 
straight antagonists. She staggered on towards them, 
gripping her rifle with some muddled idea of defence, 
and in another moment she was brushing against the 
branches of a stunted fir, which shed thick lumps of 
snow upon her feet. What trees were these? Had 
she ever passed any trees ? No ! There were no trees 
on her way to Trafford. . . . 

She began whimpering like a tormented child. 
But even as she wept she turned her sledge about to 
follow the edge of the wood. She was too much 
downhill, she thought and she must bear up again. 

She left the trees behind, made an angle uphill to 
the right, and was presently among trees again. Again 
she left them and again came back to them. She 
screamed with anger at them and twitched her sledge 
away. She wiped at the snowstorm with her arm as 
though she would wipe it away. She wanted to stamp 
on the universe. . . . 

And she ached, she ached. . . . 

Something caught her eye ahead, something that 
gleamed ; it was exactly like a long, bare rather pink- 
ish bone standing erect on the ground. Just because 
it was strange and queer she ran forward to it. Then 
as she came nearer she perceived it was a streak of 
barked trunk ; a branch had been torn off a pine tree 
and the bark stripped down to the root. And then 
her foot hit against a freshly hewn stump, and then 
came another, poking its pinkish wounds above the 



472 MARRIAGE 

snow. And there were chips ! This filled her with 
wonder. Some one had been cutting wood! There 
must be Indians or trappers near, she thought, and 
then realized the wood-cutter could be none other 
than herself. 

She turned to the right and saw the rocks rising 
steeply close at hand. " Oh Rag !" she cried, and 
fired her rifle in the air. 

Ten seconds, twenty seconds, and then so loud and 
near it amazed her, came his answering shot. It 
sounded like the hillside bursting. 

In another moment she had discovered the trail 
she had made overnight and that morning by drag- 
ging firewood. It was now a shallow soft white trench. 
Instantly her despair and fatigue had gone from her. 
Should she take a load of wood with her? she asked 
herself, in addition to the weight behind her, and had 
a better idea. She would unload and pile her stuff 
here, and bring him down on the sledge closer to the 
wood. She looked about and saw two rocks that 
diverged with a space between. She flashed schemes. 
She would trample the snow hard and flat, put her 
sledge on it, pile boughs and make a canopy of blanket 
overhead and behind. Then a fire in front. 

She saw her camp admirable. She tossed her pro- 
visions down and ran up the broad windings of her 
pine-tree trail to Trafford, with the unloaded sledge 
bumping behind her. She ran as lightly as though 
she had done nothing that day. 

She found him markedly recovered, weak and 
quiet, with snow drifting over his feet, his rifle across 
his knees, and his pipe alight. " Back already," he 
said, " but " 

He hesitated. "No grub?" 

She knelt over him, gave his rough unshaven cheek 
a swift kiss, ajid very rapidly explained her plan. 



LONELY HUT 478 

8 

In three days' time they were back at the hut, and 
the last two days they wore blue spectacles because of 
the mid-day glare of the sunlit snow. 

It amazed Marjorie to discover as she lay awake 
in the camp on the edge of the ravine close to the hut 
to which she had lugged Trafford during the second 
day, that she was deeply happy. It was preposterous 
that she should be so, but those days of almost des- 
pairful stress were irradiated now by a new courage. 
She was doing this thing, against all Labrador and 
the snow-driving wind that blew from the polar wilder- 
ness, she was winning. It was a great discovery to 
her that hardship and effort almost to the breaking- 
point could ensue in so deep a satisfaction. She lay 
and thought how deep and rich life had become for 
her, as though in all this effort and struggle some un- 
suspected veil had been torn away. She perceived 
again, but now with no sense of desolation, that same 
infinite fragility of life which she had first perceived 
when she had watched the Aurora Borealis flickering 
up the sky. Beneath that realization and carrying 
it, as a river flood may carry scum, was a sense of 
herself as something deeper, greater, more enduring 
than mountain or wilderness or sky, or any of those 
monstrous forms of nature that had dwarfed her 
physical self to nothingness. 

She had a persuasion of self detachment and illu- 
mination, and withal of self-discovery. She saw her 
life of time and space for what it was. Away in 
London the children, with the coldest of noses and the 
gayest of spirits, would be scampering about their 
bedrooms in the mild morning sunlight of a London 
winter; Elsie, the parlourmaid, would be whisking 
dexterous about the dining-room, the bacon would be 



474 MARRIAGE 

cooking and the coffee-mill at work, the letters of the 
morning delivery perhaps just pattering into the let- 
ter-box, and all the bright little household she had 
made, with all the furniture she had arranged, all the 
characteristic decoration she had given it, all the 
clever convenient arrangements, would be getting it- 
self into action for another day and it wasn't her- 
self! It was the extremest of her superficiality. 

She had come out of all that, and even so it seem- 
ed she had come out of herself; this weary woman 
lying awake on the balsam boughs with a brain clear- 
ed by underfeeding and this continuous arduous bath 
of toil in snow-washed, frost cleansed, starry air, this, 
too, was no more than a momentarily clarified window 
for her unknown and indefinable reality. What was 
that reality? what was she herself? She became in- 
terested in framing an answer to that, and slipped 
down from the peace of soul she had attained. Her 
serenity gave way to a reiteration of this question, 
reiterations increasing and at last oppressing like the 
snowflakes of a storm, perpetual whirling repetitions 
that at last confused her and hid the sky. . . . 

She fell asleep. . . . 

9 

With their return to the hut, Marjorie had found 
herself encountering a new set of urgencies. In their 
absence that wretched little wolverine had found great 
plenty and happiness in the tent and store-shed ; its 
traces were manifest nearly everywhere, and it had 
particularly assailed the candles, after a destructive 
time among the frozen caribou beef. It had clamber- 
ed up on the packages of sardines and jumped thence 
on to a sloping pole that it could claw along into the 
frame of the roof. She rearranged the packages, 



LONELY HUT 475 

but that was no good. She could not leave Trafford 
in order to track the brute down, and for a night or 
so she could not think of any way of checking its de- 
predations. It came each night. . . . Trafford kept 
her close at home. She had expected that when he 
was back in his bunk, secure and warm, he would heal 
rapidly, but instead he suddenly developed all the 
symptoms of a severe feverish cold, and his scars, 
which had seemed healing, became flushed and ugly- 
looking. Moreover, there was something wrong with 
his leg, an ominous ache that troubled her mind. 
Every woman, she decided, ought to know how to set 
a bone. He was unable to sleep by reason of these 
miseries, though very desirous of doing so. He be- 
came distressingly weak and inert, he ceased to care 
for food, and presently he began to, talk to himself 
with a complete disregard of her presence. Hourly 
she regretted her ignorance of medicine that left her 
with no conceivable remedy for all the aching and 
gnawing that worried and weakened him, except bath- 
ing with antiseptics and a liberal use of quinine. 

And his face became strange to her, for over his 
flushed and sunken cheeks, under the raw spaces of 
the scar a blond beard bristled and grew. Presently, 
Trafford was a bearded man. 

Incidentally, however, she killed the wolverine by 
means of a trap of her own contrivance, a loaded rifle 
with a bait of what was nearly her last candles, rigged 
to the trigger. 

But this loss of the candles brought home to them 
the steady lengthening of the nights. Scarcely seven 
hours of day remained now in the black, cold grip of 
the darkness. And through those seventeen hours of 
chill aggression they had no light but the red glow 
of the stove. She had to close the door of the hut and 
bar every chink and cranny against the icy air, that 



476 MARRIAGE 

became at last a murderous, freezing wind. Not 
only did she line the hut with every scrap of skin 
and paper she could obtain, but she went out with the 
spade toiling for three laborious afternoons in piling 
and beating snow against the outer frame. And now 
it was that Trafford talked at last, talked with some- 
thing of the persistence of delirium, and she sat and 
listened hour by hour, silently, for he gave no heed to 
her or to anything she might say. He talked, it 
seemed, to God. . . . 

10 

Darkness about a sullen glow of red, and a voice 
speaking. 

The voice of a man, fevered and in pain, wounded 
and amidst hardship and danger, struggling with the 
unrelenting riddle of his being. Ever and again when 
a flame leapt she would see his face, haggard, bearded, 
changed, and yet infinitely familiar. 

His voice varied, now high and clear, now mumb- 
ling, now vexed and expostulating, now rich with deep 
feeling, now fagged and slow ; his matter varied, too ; 
now he talked like one who is inspired, and now like 
one lost and confused, stupidly repeating phrases, 
going back upon a misleading argument, painfully, 
laboriously beginning over and over again. Marjorie 
sat before the stove watching it burn and sink, re- 
plenishing it, preparing food, and outside the bitter 
wind moaned and blew the powdery snow before it, and 
the shortening interludes of pallid, diffused daylight 
which pass for days in such weather, came and went. 
Intense cold had come now with leaden snowy days 
and starless nights. 

Sometimes his speech filled her mind, seemed to 
fill all her world; sometimes she ceased to listen, fol- 



LONELY HUT 477 

lowing thoughts of her own. Sometimes she dozed; 
sometimes she awakened from sleep to find him talk- 
ing. But slowly she realized a thread in his discourse, 
a progress and development. 

Sometimes he talked of his early researches, and 
then he would trace computations with his hands as if 
he were using a blackboard, and became distressed to 
remember what he had written. Sometimes he would 
be under the claws of the lynx again, and fighting for 
his eyes. "Ugh !" he said, " keep those hind legs 
still. Keep your hind legs still! Knife? Knife P 
Ah! got it. Gu u u, you Beast!" 

But the gist of his speech was determined by the 
purpose of his journey to Labrador. At last he was 
reviewing his life and hers, and all that their life might 
signify, even as he determined to do. She began to 
perceive that whatever else drifted into his mind and 
talk, this recurred and grew, that he returned to the 
conclusion he had reached, and not to the beginning 
of the matter, and went on from that. . . . 

" You see," he said, " our lives are nothing 
nothing in themselves. I know that; I've never had 
any doubts of that. We individuals just pick up a 
mixed lot of things out of the powers that begat us, 
and lay them down again presently a little altered, 
that's all heredities, traditions, the finger nails of 
my grandfather, a great-aunt's lips, the faith of a 
sect, the ideas of one's time. We live and then we die, 
and the threads run, dispersing this way and that. To 
make other people again. Whatever's immortal isn't 
that, our looks or our habits, our thoughts or our 
memories just the shapes, these are, of one im- 
mortal stuff. . . . One immortal stuff." . . . 

The voice died away as if he was baffled. Then 
it resumed. 

" But we ought to partake of immortality ; that'* 
my point. We ought to partake of immortality. 



478 MARRIAGE 

1 " I mean we're like the little elements in a mag- 

net; ought not to lie higgledy-piggledy, ought to 

point the same way, be polarized Something mi- 

crocosmic, you know, ought to be found in a man. 

" Analogies run away with one. Suppose the bar 
isn't magnetized yet ! Suppose purpose has to come ; 
suppose the immortal stuff isn't yet, isn't being but 
struggling to be. Struggling to be. ... Gods ! that 
morning! When the child was born! And after- 
wards she was there with a smile on her lips, and a 
little flushed and proud as if nothing had happened 
so very much out of the way. Nothing so wonderful. 
And we had another life besides our own ! . . . " 

Afterwards he came back to that. " That was a 
good image," he said, " something trying to exist, 
which isn't substance, doesn't belong to space or time, 
something stifled and enclosed, struggling to get 
through. Just confused birth cries, eyes that hardly 
see, deaf ears, poor little thrusting hands. A thing 
altogether blind at first, a twitching and thrusting of 
protoplasm under the waters, and then the plants 
creeping up the beaches, the insects and reptiles on 
the margins of the rivers, beasts with a flicker of 
light in their eyes answering the sun. And at last, 
out of the long interplay of desire and fear, an ape, 
an ape that stared and wondered, and scratched queer 
pictures on a bone. ..." 

He lapsed into silent thought for a time, and 
Marjorie glanced at his dim face in the shadows. 

" I say nothing of ultimates," he said at last. 

He repeated that twice before his thoughts would 
flow again. 

" This is as much as I see, in time as I know it and 
space as I know it something struggling to exist. 
It's true to the end of my limits. What can I say 
beyond that? It struggles to exist, becomes conscious, 



LONELY HUT 479 

becomes now conscious of itself. That is where I come 
in, as a part of it. Above the beast in me is that 
the desire to know better, to know beautifully, and 
to transmit my knowledge. That's all there is in life 
for me beyond food and shelter and tidying up. This 
Being opening its eyes, listening, trying to compre- 
hend. Every good thing in man is that; looking 
and making pictures, listening and making songs, 
making philosophies and sciences, trying new powers, 
bridge and engine, spark and gun. At the bottom of 
my soul, that. We began with bone-scratching. We're 
still near it. I am just a part of this beginning 
mixed with other things. Every book, every art, 
every religion is that, the attempt to understand and 
express mixed with other things. Nothing else mat- 
ters, nothing whatever. I tell you Nothing 

whatever ! 

"I've always believed that. All my life I've be- 
lieved that. 

" Only I've forgotten." 

" Every man with any brains believes that at the 
bottom of his heart. Only he gets busy and forgets. 
He goes shooting lynxes and breaks his leg. Odd, 
instinctive, brutal thing to do to go tracking down 
a lynx to kill it! I grant you that, Marjorie. I grant 
you that." 

" Grant me what ?" she cried, startled beyond 
measure to hear herself addressed. 

" Grant you that it is rather absurd to go hunt- 
ing a lynx. And what big paws it has dispropor- 
tionately big! I wonder if that's an adaptation to 
snow. Tremendous paws they are. . . . But the 
real thing, I was saying, the real thing is to get 
knowledge, and express it. All things lead up to that. 
Civilization, social order, just for that. Except for 
that, all the life of man, all his affairs, his laws and 



480 MARRIAGE 

police, his morals and manners nonsense, nonsense, 
nonsense. Lynx hunts ! Just ways of getting them- 
selves mauled and clawed perhaps into a state of 
understanding. Who knows? . . ." 

His voice became low and clear. 

" Understanding spreading like a dawn. . . . 

" Logic and language, clumsy implements, but 
rising to our needs, rising to our needs, thought 
clarified, enriched, reaching out to every man alive 
some day presently touching every man alive, har- 
monizing acts and plans, drawing men into gigantic 
co-operations, tremendous co-operations. . . . 

" Until man shall stand upon this earth as upon 
a footstool and reach out his hand among the stars. 

" And then I went into the rubber market, and 
spent seven years of my life driving shares up and 
down and into a net ! . . . Queer game indeed ! 
Stupid ass Behrens was at bottom. . . . 

" There's a flaw in it somewhere. ..." 

He came back to that several times before he 
seemed able to go on from it. 

" There is a collective mind," he said, " a grow- 
ing general consciousness growing clearer. Some- 
thing put me away from that, but I know it. My 
work, my thinking, was a part of it. That's why 
I was so mad about Behrens." 

"Behrens?" 

" Of course. He'd got a twist, a wrong twist. It 
makes me angry now. It will take years, it will eat 
up some brilliant man to clean up after Behrens 

" Yes, but the point is" his voice became acute 
" why did I go making money and let Behrens in ? 
Why generally and in all sorts of things does Behrens 
come in ? . . . " 

He was silent for a long time, and then he began 



LONELY HUT 481 

to answer himself. " Of course," he said, " I said it 
or somebody said it about this collective mind being 
mixed with other things. It's something arising out 
of life not the common stuff of life. An exhala- 
tion. . . . It's like the little tongues of fire that came 
at Pentecost. . . . Queer how one comes drifting 
back to these images. Perhaps I shall die a Christian 
jet. . . . The other Christians won't like me if I do. 
What was I saying? . . . It's what I reach up to, 
what I desire shall pervade me, not what I am. Just 
as far as I give myself purely to knowledge, to mak- 
ing feeling and thought clear in my mind and words, 
to the understanding and expression of the realties 
and relations of life, just so far do I achieve Salva- 
tion. . . . Salvation! . . . 

" I wonder, is Salvation the same for every one ? 
Perhaps for one man Salvation is research and 
thought, and for another expression in art, and for 
another nursing lepers. Provided he does it in the 
spirit. He has to do it in the spirit. ..." 

There came a silence as though some difficulty 
baffled him, and he was feeling back to get his argu- 
ment again. 

" This flame that arises out of life, that redeems 
life from purposeless triviality, isn't life. Let me get 
hold of that. That's a point. That's a very import- 
ant point." 

Something had come to him. 

" I've never talked of this to Marjorie. I've lived 
with her nine years and more, and never talked of 
religion. Not once. That's so queer of us. Any 
other couple in any other time would have talked 
religion no end. . . . People ought to." 

Then he stuck out an argumentative hand. " You 
see, Marjorie is life," he said. 

" She took me." 



482 MARRIAGE 

He spoke slowly, as though he traced things care- 
fully. " Before I met her I suppose I wasn't half 
alive. No ! Yet I don't remember I felt particularly 
incomplete. Women were interesting, of course ; they 
excited me at times, that girl at Yonkers! H'm. I 
stuck to my work. It was fine work, I forget half of 
it now, the half-concealed intimations I mean queer 
how one forgets ! but I know I felt my way to wide, 
deep things. It was like exploring caves monstrous, 
limitless caves. Such caves ! . . . Very still under- 
ground. Wonderful and beautiful. . . . They're 
lying there now for other men to seek. Other men 
will find them. . . . Then she came, as though she 
was taking possession. The beauty of her, oh! the 
life and bright eagerness, and the incompatibility! 
That's the riddle! I've loved her always. When she 
came to my arms it seemed to me the crown of life. 
Caves indeed! Old caves! Nothing else seemed to 
matter. But something did. All sorts of things did. 
I found that out soon enough. And when that first 
child was born. That for a time was supreme. . . . 
Yes she's the quintessence of life, the dear greed of 
her, the appetite, the clever appetite for things. She 
grabs. She's so damned clever ! The light in her eyes ! 
Her quick sure hands! . . . Only my work was 
crowded out of my life and ended, and she didn't 
seem to feel it, she didn't seem to mind it. There was 
a sort of disregard. Disregard. As though all that 
didn't really matter " 

" My dear!" whispered Marjorie unheeded. She 
wanted to tell him it mattered now, mattered su- 
premely, but she knew he had no ears for her. 

His voice flattened. " It's perplexing," he said. 
" The two different things." 

Then suddenly he cried out harshly : " I ought 
never to have married her never, never! I had my 



LONELY HUT 483 

task. I gave myself to her. Oh ! the high immensities, 
the great and terrible things open to the mind of 
man ! And we breed children and live in littered houses 
and play with our food and chatter, chatter, chatter. 
Oh, the chatter of my life! The folly! The women 
with their clothes. I can hear them rustle now, whiff 
the scent of it! The scandals as though the things 
they did with themselves and each other mattered a 
rap; the little sham impromptu clever things, the 
trying to keep young and underneath it all that 
continual cheating, cheating, cheating, damning 
struggle for money ! . . . 

" Marjorie, Marjorie, Marjorie! Why is she so 
good and no better! Why wasn't she worth it al- 
together? . . . 

" No ! I don't want to go on with it any more 
ever. I want to go back. 

" I want my life over again, and to go back. 

" I want research, and the spirit of research that 
has died in me, and that still, silent room of mine 
again, that room, as quiet as a cell, and the toil that 
led to light. Oh! the coming of that light, the 
uprush of discovery, the solemn joy as the generali- 
zation rises like a sun upon the facts floods them 
with a common meaning. That is what I want. That 
is what I have always wanted. . . . 

" Give me my time oh God ! again ; I am sick of 
this life I have chosen. I am sick of it ! This busy 
death! Give me my time again. . . . Why did you 
make me, and then waste me like this? Why are we 
made for folly upon folly? Folly ! and brains made to 
scale high heaven, smeared into the dust! Into the 
dust, into the dust. Dust ! . . . " 

He passed into weak, wandering repetitions of 
disconnected sentences, that died into whispers and 
silence, and Marjorie watched him and listened to 



484 MARRIAGE 

him, and waited with a noiseless dexterity upon his 
every need. 



One day, she did not know what day, for she had 
lost count of the days, Marjorie set the kettle to boil 
and opened the door of the hut to look out, and the 
snow was ablaze with diamonds, and the air was sweet 
and still. It occurred to her that it would be well to 
take Trafford out into that brief brightness. She 
looked at him and found his eyes upon the sunlight 
quiet and rather wondering eyes. 

" Would you like to get out into that?" she asked 
abruptly. 

" Yes," he said, and seemed disposed to get up. 

" You've got a broken leg," she cried, to arrest 
his movement, and he looked at her and answered: 
" Of course I forgot." 

She was all atremble that he should recognize her 
and speak to her. She pulled her rude old sledge 
alongside his bunk, and kissed him, and showed him 
how to shift and drop himself upon the plank. She 
took him in her arms and lowered him. He helped 
weakly but understandingly, and she wrapped him up 
warmly on the planks and lugged him out and built 
up a big fire at his feet, wondering, but as yet too 
fearful to rejoice, at the change that had come to 
him. 

He said no more, but his eyes watched her move 
about with a kind of tired curiosity. He smiled for a 
time at the sun, and shut his eyes, and still faintly 
smiling, lay still. She had a curious fear that if she 
tried to talk to him this new lucidity would vanish 
again. She went about the business of the morning, 
glancing at him ever and again, until suddenly the 



LONELY HUT 485 

calm of his upturned face smote her, and she ran to 
him and crouched down to him between hope and a 
terrible fear, and found that he was sleeping, and 
breathing very lightly, sleeping with the deep uncon- 
sciousness of a child. . . . 

When he awakened the sun was red in the west. 
His eyes met hers, and he seemed a little puzzled. 

"I've been sleeping, Madge?" he said. 

She nodded. 

" And dreaming? I've a vague sort of memory of 
preaching and preaching in a kind of black, empty 
place, where there wasn't anything. ... A fury of 
exposition ... a kind of argument. ... I say ! Is 
there such a thing in the world as a new-laid egg 
and some bread-and-butter?" 

He seemed to reflect. " Of course," he said, " I 
broke my leg. Gollys ! I thought that beast was 
going to claw my eyes out. Lucky, Madge, it didn't 
get my eyes. It was just a chance it didn't." 

He stared at her. 

He stared at her. 

" I say," he said, " you've had a pretty rough 
time ! How long has this been going on ?" 

He amazed her by rising himself on his elbow and 
sitting up. 

" Your leg !" she cried. 

He put his hand down and felt it. " Pretty stiff," 
he said. " You get me some food there were some 
eggs, Madge, frozen new-laid, anyhow and then we'll 
take these splints off and feel about a bit. Eh ! why 
not? How did you get me out of that scrape, Madge? 
I thought I'd got to be froze as safe as eggs. (Those 
eggs ought to be all right, you know. If you put 
them on in a saucepan and wait until they boil.) I've 
a sort of muddled impression. . . . By Jove, Madge, 
you've had a time ! I say you have had a time !" 



486 MARRIAGE 

His eyes, full of a warmth of kindliness she had 
not seen for long weeks, scrutinized her face. " I 
say!" he repeated, very softly. 

All her strength went from her at his tenderness. 
" Oh, my dear," she wailed, kneeling at his side, " my 
dear, dear!" and still regardful of his leg, she yet 
contrived to get herself weeping into his coveted arms. 

He regarded her, he held her, he patted her back ! 
The infinite luxury to her! He'd come back. He'd 
come back to her. 

" How long has it been?" he asked. " Poor dear! 
Poor dear! How long can it have been?" 



From that hour Trafford mended. He remained 
clear-minded, helpful, sustaining. His face healed 
daily. Marjorie had had to cut away great fragments 
of gangrenous frozen flesh, and he was clearly des- 
tined to have a huge scar over forehead and cheek, 
but in that pure, clear air, once the healing had be- 
gun it progressed swiftly. His leg; had set, a little 
shorter than its fellow and with a lump in the middle 
of the shin, but it promised to be a good serviceable 
leg none the less. They examined it by the light of 
the stove with their heads together, and discussed 
when it would be wise to try it. How do doctors tell 
when a man may stand on his broken leg? She had a 
vague impression you must wait six weeks, but she 
could not remember why she fixed upon that time. 

" It seems a decent interval," said Trafford. 
" We'll try it." 

She had contrived a crutch for him against that 
momentous experiment, and he sat up in his bunk, 
pillowed up by a sack and her rugs, and whittled it 
smooth, and padded the fork with the skin of that 



LONELY HUT 487 

slaughtered wolverine, poor victim of hunger ! while 
she knelt by the stove feeding it with logs, and gave 
him an account of their position. 

" We're somewhere in the middle of December," 
she said, "somewhere between the twelfth and the 
fourteenth, yes! I'm as out as that! and I've 
handled the stores pretty freely. So did that little 
beast until I got him." She nodded at the skin in 
his hand. " I don't see myself shooting much now, 
and so far I've not been able to break the ice to fish. 
It's too much for me. Even if it isn't too late to 
fish. This book we've got describes barks and mosses, 
and that will help, but if we stick here until the birds 
and things come, we're going to be precious short. 
We may have to last right into July. I've plans 
but it may come to that. We ought to ration all the 
regular stuff, and trust to luck for a feast. The 
rations ! I don't know what they'll come to." 

" Right O," said Trafford admiring her capable 
gravity. " Let's ration." 

" Marjorie," he asked abruptly, " are you sorry 
we came?" 

Her answer came unhesitatingly. *W0/" 

" Nor I." 

He paused. " I've found you out," he said. 
" Dear dirty living thing ! . . . You are dirty, you 
know." 

" I've found myself," she answered, thinking. " I 
feel as if I've never loved you until this hut. I sup- 
pose I have in my way " 

" Lugano," he suggested. " Don't let's forget 
good things, Marjorie. "Oh! And endless times!" 

" Oh, of course ! As for that / But now 

now you're in my bones. We were just two shallow, 
pretty, young things loving. It was sweet, dear 
sweet as youth but not thia. Unkempt and weary 



488 MARRIAGE 

then one understands love. I suppose I am dirty. 
Think of it! I've lugged you through the snow till 
my shoulders chafed and bled. I cried with pain, and 

kept on lugging Oh, my dear! my dear!" He 

kissed her hair. " I've held you in my arms to keep 
you from freezing. (I'd have frozen myself first.) 
We've got to starve together perhaps before the end. 
. . . Dear, if I could make you, you should eat me. 
. . . I'm I'm beginning to understand. I've had a 
light. I've begun to understand. I've begun to see 
what, life has been for you, and how I've wasted 
wasted." 

" We've wasted !" 

" No," she said, " it was I." 

She sat back on the floor and regarded him. " You 
don't remember things you said when you were 
delirious ?" 

" No," he answered. " What did I say?" 

" Nothing?" 

" Nothing clearly. What did I say?" 

" It doesn't matter. No, indeed. Only you made 
me understand. You'd never have told me. You've 
always been a little weak with me there. But it's 
plain to me why we didn't keep our happiness, why 
we were estranged. If we go back alive, we go back 
all that settled for good and all." 

"What?" 

" That discord. My dear, I've been a fool, self- 
ish, ill-trained and greedy. We've both been floun- 
dering about, but I've been the mischief of it. Yes, 
I've been the trouble. Oh, it's had to be so. What 
are we women half savages, half pets, unemployed 
things of greed and desire and suddenly we want all 
the rights and respect of souls ! I've had your life in 
my hands from the moment we met together. If I 
had known. ... It isn't that we can make you or 



LONELY HUT 489 

guide you I'm not pretending to be an inspiration 
but but we can release you. We needn't press upon 
you ; we can save you from the instincts and passions 
that try to waste you altogether on us. . . . Yes, I'm 
beginning to understand. Oh, my child, my husband, 
my man ! You talked of your wasted life ! . . . I've 
been thinking since first we left the Mersey. I've 
begun to see what it is to be a woman. For the first 
time in my life. We're the responsible sex. And 
we've forgotten it. We think we've done a wonder if 
we've borne men into the world and smiled a little,, 
but indeed we've got to bear them all our lives. . . . 
A woman has to be steadier than a man and more self- 
sacrificing than a man, because when she plunges she 
does more harm than a man. . . . And what does she 
achieve if she does plunge? Nothing nothing worth 
counting. Dresses and carpets and hangings and 
pretty arrangements, excitements and satisfactions 
and competition and more excitements. We can't 
do things. We don't bring things off! And you, 
you Monster! you Dream! you want to stick your 
hand out of all that is and make something that isn't, 
begin to be ! That's the man " 

" Dear old Madge !" he said, " there's all sorts of 
women and all sorts of men." 

" Well, our sort of women, then, and our sort of 
men." 

" I doubt even that." 

" I don't. I've found my place. I've been making 
my master my servant. We women we've been loot- 
ing all the good things in the world, and helping 
nothing. You've carried me on your back until you 
are loathing life. I've been making you fetch and 
carry for me, love me, dress me, keep me and my chil- 
dren, minister to my vanities and greeds. . . . No ; 
let me go on. I'm so penitent, my dear, so penitent I 



490 MARRIAGE 

want to kneel down here and marry you all over again, 
heal up your broken life and begin again." . . . 

She paused. 

" One doesn't begin again," she said. " But I 
want to take a new turn. Dear, you're still only a 
young man ; we've thirty or forty years before us 
forty years perhaps or more. . . . What shall we do 
with our years? We've loved, we've got children. 
What remains ? Here we can plan it out, work it out, 
day after day. What shall we do with our lives and 
life? Tell me, make me your partner; it's you who 
know, what are we doing with life?" 



13 

What are we doing with life? 

That question overtakes a reluctant and fugitive 
humanity. The Traffords were but two of a great 
scattered host of people, who, obeying all the urgen- 
cies of need and desire, struggling, loving, begetting, 
enjoying, do nevertheless find themselves at last un- 
satisfied. They have lived the round of experience, 
achieved all that living creatures have sought since 
the beginning of the world security and gratification 
and offspring and they find themselves still strong, 
unsatiated, with power in their hands and years be- 
fore them, empty of purpose. What are they to do? 

The world presents such a spectacle of evasion as 
it has never seen before. Never was there such a 
boiling over and waste of vital energy. The Sphinx 
of our opportunity calls for the uttermost powers of 
heart and brain to read its riddle the new, astonish- 
ing riddle of excessive power. A few give themselves 
to those honourable adventures that extend the range 
of man, they explore untravelled countries, climb re- 



LONELY HUT 491 

mote mountains, conduct researches, risk life and limb 
in the fantastic experiments of flight, and a mon- 
strous outpouring of labour and material goes on in 
the strenuous preparation for needless and improb- 
able wars. The rest divert themselves with the dwar- 
fish satisfactions of recognized vice, the meagre rou- 
tine of pleasure, or still more timidly with sport and 
games those new unscheduled perversions of the souL 

We are afraid of our new selves. The dawn of 
human opportunity appals us. Few of us dare look 
upon this strange light of freedom and limitless re- 
sources that breaks upon our world. 

"Think," said Trafford, "while we sit here in 
this dark hut think of the surplus life that wastes 
itself in the world for sheer lack of direction. Away 
there in England I suppose that is westward" he 
pointed " there are thousands of men going out to- 
day to shoot. Think of the beautifully made guns, 
the perfected ammunition, the excellent clothes, the 
army of beaters, the carefully preserved woodland, 
the admirable science of it all for that idiot mas- 
sacre of half-tame birds ! Just because man once had 
need to be a hunter ! Think of the -others again 
golfing. Think of the big, elaborate houses from 
which they come, the furnishings, the service. And 
the women dressing! Perpetually dressing. You, 
Marjorie -you've done nothing but dress since we 
married. No, let me abuse you, dear! It's insane, 
you know! You dress your minds a little to talk 
amusingly, you spread your minds out to back- 
grounds, to households, picturesque and delightful 
gardens, nurseries. Those nurseries! Think of our 
tremendously cherished and educated children! And 
when they grow up, what have we got for them? A 
feast of futility. ..." 



492 MARRIAGE 



On the evening of the day when Trafford first 
tried to stand upon his leg, they talked far into the 
night. It had been a great and eventful day for them, 
full of laughter and exultation. He had been at first 
ridiculously afraid; he had clung to her almost chil- 
dishly, and she had held him about the body with 
his weight on her strong right arm and his right arm 
in her left hand, concealing her own dread of a col- 
lapse under a mask of taunting courage. The crutch 
had proved admirable. " It's my silly knees !" Traf- 
ford kept on saying. " The leg's all right, but I get 
put out by my silly knees." __ 

They made the day a feast, a dinner of two whole 
day's rations and a special soup instead of supper. 
*' The birds will come," they explained to each other, 
" ducks and geese, long before May. May, you know, 
is the latest." 

Marjorie confessed the habit of sharing his pipe 
was growing on her. " What shall we do in Tybur- 
nia!" she said, and left it to the imagination. 

" If ever we get back there," he said. 

" I don't much fancy kicking a skirt before my 
shins again and I'll be a black, coarse woman down 
to my neck at dinner for years to come ! . . . 

Then, as he lay back in his bunk and she crammed 
the stove with fresh boughs and twigs of balsam that 
filled the little space about them with warmth and 
with a faint, sweet smell of burning and with flitting 
red reflections, he took up a talk about religion they 
had begun some days before. 

" You see," he said, " I've always believed in 
Salvation. I suppose a man's shy of saying so even 
to his wife. But I've always believed more or less 
distinctly that there was something up to which a life 



LONELY HUT 493 

worked always. It's been rather vague, I'll admit. 
I don't think I've ever believed in individual salvation. 
You see, I feel these are deep things, and the deeper 
one gets the less individual one becomes. That's why 
one thinks of those things in darkness and loneliness 
and finds them hard to tell. One has an individual 
voice, or an individual birthmark, or an individualized 
old hat, but the soul the soul's different. ... It 
isn't me talking to you when it comes to that. . . . 
This question of what we are doing with life isn't a 
question to begin with for you and me as ourselves, 
but for you and me as mankind. Am I spinning it 
too fine, Madge?" 

" No," she said, intent ; " go on." 

" You see, when we talk rations here, Marjorie, 
it's ourselves, but when we talk religion it's man- 
kind. You've either! got to be Everyman in religion 
or leave it alone. That's my idea. It's no more pre- 
sumptuous to think for the race than it is for a beg- 
gar to pray though that means going right up to 
God and talking to Him. Salvation's a collective 
think and a mystical thing or there isn't any. Fancy 
the Almighty and me sitting up and keeping Eternity 
together ! God and R. A. G. Trafford, F.R.S. that's 
silly. Fancy a man in number seven boots, and a 
tailor-made suit in the nineteen-fourteen fashion, sit- 
ting before God! That's caricature. But God and 
Man! That's sense, Marjorie." . . . 

He stopped and stared at her. 

Marjorie sat red-lit, regarding him. " Queer 
things you say !" she said. " So much of this I've 
never thought out. I wonder why I've never done so. 
. . . Too busy with many things, I suppose. But 
go on and tell me more of these secrets you've kept 
from me !" 

" Well, we've got to talk of these things as 



494 MARRIAGE 

mankind or just leave them alone, and shoot 
pheasants." . . . 

" If I could shoot a pheasant now !" whispered 
Mar j one, involuntarily. 

"And where do, we stand? What do we need 
I mean the whole race of us kings and beggars 
together? You know, Marjorie, it's this, it's Under- 
standing. That's what mankind has got to, the 
realization that it doesn't understand, that it can't 
express, that it's purblind. We haven't got eyes for 
those greater things, but we've got the promise the 
intimation of eyes. We've come out of an unsuspect- 
ing darkness, brute animal darkness, not into sight, 
that's been the mistake, but into a feeling of illumi- 
nation, into a feeling of light shining through our 
opacity. . . . 

" I feel that man has now before all things to 
know. That's his supreme duty, to feel, realize, see, 
understand, express himself to the utmost limits of 
his power." 

He sat up, speaking very earnestly to her, and in 
that flickering light she realized for the first time how 
thin he had become, how bright and hollow his eyes, 
his hair was long over his eyes, and a rough beard 
flowed down to his chest. " All the religions," he 
said, " all the philosophies, have pretended to achieve 
too much. We've no language yet for religious truth 
or metaphysical truth; we've no basis yet broad 
enough and strong enough on which to build. Re- 
ligion and philosophy have been impudent and quack- 
ish quackish! They've been like the doctors, who 
have always pretended they could cure since the be- 
ginning of things, cure everything, and to this day 
even they haven't got more than the beginnings of 
knowledge on which to base a cure. They've lacked 
humility, they've lacked the honour to say they didn't 



LONELY HUT 495 

know ; the priests took things of wood and stone, the 
philosophers took little odd arrangements of poor 
battered words, metaphors, analogies, abstractions, 
and said: " That's it!" Think of their silly old Ab- 
solute, ab-solutus, an untied parcel. I heard Hal- 
dane at the Aristotelian once, go on for an hour 
no ! it was longer than an hour as glib and slick as 
a well-oiled sausage-machine, about the different sorts 
of Absolute, and not a soul of us laughed out at him ! 
The vanity of such profundities ! They've no faith, 
faith in patience, faith to wait for the coming of 
God. And since we don't know God, since we don't 
know His will with us, isn't it plain that all our lives 
should be a search for Him and it? Can anything 
else matter, after we are free from necessity? That 
is the work now that is before all mankind, to attempt 
understanding by the perpetual finding of thought 
and the means of expression, by perpetual extension 
and refinement of science, by the research that every 
artist makes for beauty and significance in his art, 
by the perpetual testing and destruction and rebirth 
under criticism of all these things, and by a perpetual 
extension of this intensifying wisdom to more minds 
and more minds and more, till all men share in it, and 
share in the making of it. ... There you have my 
creed, Marjorie; there you have the very marrow of 
me." . . . 

He became silent. 

" Will you go back to your work ?" she said, 
abruptly. " Go back to your laboratory?" 

He stared at her for a moment without speaking. 
" Never," he said at last. 

" But," she said, and the word dropped from her 
like a stone that falls down a well. . . . 

" My dear," he said, at last, " I've thought of 
that. But since I left that dear, dusty little labora- 
tory, and all those exquisite subtle things I've lived. 



496 MARRIAGE 

I've left that man seven long years behind me. Some 
other man must go on I think some younger man 
with the riddles I found to work on then. I've grown 
into something different. It isn't how atoms swing 
with one another, or why they build themselves up so 
and not so, that matters any more to me. I've got 
you and all the world in which we live, and a new set 
of riddles filling my mind, how thought swings about 
thought, how one man attracts his fellows, how the 
waves of motive and conviction sweep through a 
crowd and all the little drifting crystallizations of 
spirit with spirit and all the repulsions and eddies 
and difficulties that one can catch in that turbulent 
confusion. I want to do a new sort of work now al- 
together. . . . Life has swamped me once, but I 
don't think it will get me under again; I want to 
study men." 

He paused and she waited, with a face aglow. 

" I want to go back to! watch and think and I 
suppose write. I believe I shall write criticism. But 
everything that matters is criticism ! . . . I want to 
get into contact with the men who are thinking. I 
don't mean to meet them necessarily, but to get into 
the souls of their books. Every writer who has any- 
thing to say, every artist who matters, is the stronger 
for every man or woman who responds to him. That's 
the great work the Reality. I want to become a part 
of this stuttering attempt to express, I want at least 
to resonate, even if I do not help. . . . And you with 
me, Marjorie you with me! Everything I write I 
want you to see and think about. I want you to read 
as I read. . . . Now after so long, now that, now 
that we've begun to talk, you know, talk again " 

Something stopped his voice. Something choked 1 
them both into silence. He held out a lean hand, and 
she shuffled on her knees to take it. ... 



LONELY HUT 497 

" Don't please make me," she stumbled through 
her thoughts, " one of those little parasitic, parrot- 
ing wives don't pretend too much about me be- 
cause you want me with you . Don't forget a 

woman isn't a man." 

" Old Madge," he said, " you and I have got to 
march together. Didn't I love you from the first, 
from that time when I was a boy examiner and you 
were a candidate girl because your mind was clear?" 

" And we will go back," she whispered, " with a 
work " 

" With a purpose," he said. 

She disengaged herself from his arm, and sat close 
to him upon the floor. " I think I can see what you 
will do," she said. She mused. " For the first time 
I begin to see things as they may be for us. I begin 
to see a life ahead. For the very first time." 

Queer ideas came drifting into her head. Sud- 
denly she cried out sharply in that high note he 
loved. " Good heavens !" she said. " The absurdity ! 
The infinite absurdity!" 

"But what?" 

" I might have married Will Magnet . That's 

all." 

She sprang to her feet. There came a sound of 
wind outside, a shifting of snow on the roof, and the 
door creaked. " Half-past eleven," she exclaimed 
looking at the watch that hung in the light of the 
stove door. " I don't want to sleep yet ; do you ? 
I'm going to brew some tea make a convivial drink. 
And then we will go on talking. It's so good talking 
to you. So good ! . . . I've an idea ! Don't you think 
on this special day, it might run to a biscuit?" Her 
face was keenly anxious. He nodded. " One biscuit 
each," she said, trying to rob her voice of any note of 
criminality. " Just one, you know, won't matter." 



498 MARRIAGE 

She hovered for some moments close to the stove 
before she went into the arctic corner that contained 
the tin of tea. " If we can really live like that !" she 
said. " When we are home again." 

" Why not ?" he answered. 

She made no answer, but went across for the 
tea. . . . 

He turned his head at the sound of the biscuit 
tin and watched her put out the precious discs. 

" I shall have another pipe," he proclaimed, with 
an agreeable note of excess. " Thank heaven for 
unstinted tobacco. ..." 

And now Marjorie's mind was teaming with 
thoughts of this new conception of a life lived for 
understanding. As she went about the preparation of 
the tea, her vividly concrete imagination was active 
with the realization of the life they would lead on 
their return. She could not see it otherwise than 
framed in a tall, fine room, a study, a study in sombre 
tones, with high, narrow, tall, dignified bookshelves 
and rich deep green curtains veiling its windows. 
There should be a fireplace of white marble, very 
plain and well proportioned, with furnishings of old 
brass, and a big desk towards the window beautifully 
lit by electric light, with abundant space for papers 
to lie. And she wanted some touch of the wilderness 
about it ; a skin perhaps. . . . 

The tea was still infusing when she had deter- 
mined upon an enormous paper-weight of that irides- 
cent Labradorite that had been so astonishing a 
feature of the Green River Valley. She would have 
it polished on one side only the other should be 
rough to show the felspar in its natural state. . . . 

It wasn't that she didn't feel and understand 
quite fully the intention and significance of all he had 
said, but that in these symbols of texture and equip- 



LONELY HUT 499 

ment her mind quite naturally clothed itself. And 
while this room was coming into anticipatory being 
in her mind, she was making the tea very deftly and 
listening to Trafford's every word. 

15 

That talk marked an epoch to Marjorie. From 
that day forth her imagination began to shape a 
new, ordered and purposeful life for Trafford and 
herself in London, a life not altogether divorced from 
their former life, but with a faith sustaining it and 
aims controlling it. She had always known of the 
breadth and power of his mind, but now as he talked 
of what he might do, what interests might converge 
and give results through him, it seemed she really 
knew him for the first time. In his former researches, 
so technical and withdrawn, she had seen little of his 
mind in action : now he was dealing in his own fashion 
with things she could clearly understand. There 
were times when his talk affected her like that joy of 
light one has in emerging into sunshine from a long 
and tedious cave. He swept things together, flashed 
unsuspected correlations upon her intelligence, 
smashed and scattered absurd yet venerated conven- 
tions of thought, made undreamt-of courses of action 
visible in a flare of luminous necessity. And she 
could follow him and help him. Just as she had 
hampered him and crippled him, so now she could 
release him she fondled that word. She found a 
preposterous image in her mind that she hid like a 
disgraceful secret, that she tried to forget, and yet 
its stupendous, its dreamlike absurdity had something 
in it that shaped her delight as nothing else could do ; 
she was, she told herself hawking with an arch- 
angel! . . . 



500 MARRIAGE 

These were her moods of exaltation. And she 
was sure she had never loved her man before, that 
this was indeed her beginning. It was as if she had 
just found him. . . . 

Perhaps, she thought, true lovers keep on finding 
each other all through their lives. 

And he too had discovered her. All the host of 
Marjories he had known, the shining, delightful, 
seductive, wilful, perplexing aspects that had so 
filled her life, gave place altogether for a time to 
this steady-eyed woman, lean and warm-wrapped with 
the valiant heart and the frost-roughened skin. What 
a fine, strong, ruddy thing she was ! How glad he was 
for this wild adventure in the wilderness, if only be- 
cause it had made him lie among the rocks and think 
of her and wait for her and despair of her life and 
God, and at last see her coming back to him, flushed 
with effort and calling his name to him out of that 
whirlwind of snow. . . . And there was at least one 
old memory mixed up with all these new and over- 
mastering 1 impressions, the memory of her clear un- 
hesitating voice as it had stabbed into his life again 
long years ago, minute and bright in the telephone: 
" It's me, you know. It's Marjorie!" 

Perhaps after all she had not wasted a moment of 
his life, perhaps every issue between them had been 
necessary, and it was good altogether to be turned 
from the study of crystals to the study of men and 
women. . . . 

And now both their minds were Londonward, 
where all the tides and driftage and currents of hu- 
man thought still meet and swirl together. They 
were full of what they would do when they got back. 
Marjorie sketched that study to him in general 
terms and without the paper-weight and began to 
shape the world she would have about it. She meant 



LONELY HUT 501 

to be his squaw and body-servant first of all, and then 
a mother. Children, she said, are none the worse 
for being kept a little out of focus. And he was 
rapidly planning out his approach to the new ques- 
tions to which he was now to devote his life. " One 
wants something to hold the work together," he said, 
and projected a book. " One cannot struggle at 
large for plain statement and copious and free and 
courageous statement, one needs a positive attack." 

He designed a book, which he might write if only 
for the definition it would give him and with no 
ultimate publication, which was to be called : " The 
Limits of Language as a Means of Expression." . . . 
It was to be a pragmatist essay, a sustained attempt 
to undermine the confidence of all that scholasticism 
and logic chopping which still lingers like the sequela 
of a disease in our University philosophy. " Those 
duffers sit in their studies and make a sort of tea of 
dry old words and think they're distilling the spirit 
of wisdom," he said. 

He proliferated titles for a time, and settled at 
last on " From Realism to Reality." He wanted to get 
at that at once ; it fretted him to have to hang in the 
air, day by day, for want of books to quote and op- 
ponents to lance and confute. And he wanted to see 
pictures, too and plays, read novels he had heard 
of and never read, in order to verify or cor- 
rect the ideas that were seething in his mind about 
the qualities of artistic expression. His thought had 
come out to a conviction that the line to wider human 
understandings lies through a huge criticism and 
cleaning up of the existing methods of formulation, 
as a preliminary to the wider and freer discussion of 
those religious and social issues our generation still 
shrinks from. " It's grotesque," he said, " and utter- 
ly true that the sanity and happiness of all the world 



502 MARRIAGE 

lies in its habits of generalization." There was not 
even paper for him to make notes or provisional drafts 
of the new work. He hobbled about the camp fretting 
at these deprivations. 

" Marjorie," he said, " we've done our job. Why 
should we wait here on this frosty shelf outside the 
world? My leg's getting sounder if it wasn't for 
that feeling of ice in it. Why shouldn't we make 
another sledge from the other bunk and start down " 

" To Hammond?" 

"Why not?" 

" But the way?" 

" The valley would guide us. We could do four 
hours a day before we had to camp. I'm not sure we 
couldn't try the river. We could drag and carry all 
our food. ..." 

She looked down the wide stretches of the valley. 
There was the hill they had christened Marjorie 
Ridge. At least it was familiar. Every night before 
nightfall if they started there would be a fresh camp- 
ing place to seek among the snow-drifts, a great heap 
of wood to cut to last the night. Suppose his leg 
gave out when they were already some days away, 
so that he could no longer go on or she drag him 
back to the stores. Plainly there would be nothing 
for it then but to lie down and die together. . . . 

And a sort of weariness had come to her as a 
consequence of two months of half-starved days, not 
perhaps a failure so much as a reluctance of spirit. 

" Of course," she said, with a new aspect drifting 
before her mind, " then we could eat. We could 
feed up before we started. We could feast almost !" 

16 

" While you were asleep the other night," Traf- 
ford began one day as they sat spinning out their 



LONELY HUT 503 

mid-day meal, " I was thinking how badly I had ex- 
pressed myself when I talked to you the other day, 
and what a queer, thin affair I made of the plans I 
wanted to carry out. As a matter of fact, they're 
neither queer nor thin, but they are unreal in com- 
parison with the common things of everyday life, 
hunger, anger, all the immediate desires. They must be. 
They only begin when those others are at peace. It's 
hard to set out these things ; they're complicated and 
subtle, and one cannot simplify without falsehood. I 
don't want to simplify. The world has gone out of 
its way time after time through simplifications and 
short cuts. Save us from epigrams ! And when one 
thinks over what one has said, at a little distance, 
one wants to go back to it, and say it all again. I 
seem to be not so much thinking things out as reviv- 
ing and developing things I've had growing in my 
mind ever since we met. It's as though an immense 
reservoir of thought had filled up in my mind at last 
and was beginning to trickle over and break down 
the embankment between us. This conflict that has 
been going on between our life together and my my 
intellectual life; it's only just growing clear in my 
own mind. Yet it's just as if one turned up a light 
on something that had always been there. . . . 

" It's a most extraordinary thing to think out, 
Marjorie, that antagonism. Our love has kept us so 
close together and always our purposes have been 
like that." He spread divergent hands. "I've specu- 
lated again and again whether there isn't something 
incurably antagonistic between women (that's you 
generalized, Marjorie) and men (that's me) directly 
we pass beyond the conditions of the individualistic 
struggle. I believe every couple of lovers who've ever 
married have felt that strain. Yet it's not a differ- 
ence in kind between us but degree. The big conflict 



504 MARRIAGE 

between us has a parallel in a little internal conflict 
that goes on; there's something of man in every 
woman and a touch of the feminine in every man. 
But you're nearer as woman to the immediate per- 
sonal life of sense and realty than I am as man. It's 
been so ever since the men went hunting and fighting 
and the women kept hut, tended the children and 
gathered roots in the little cultivation close at hand. 
It's been so perhaps since the female carried and 
suckled her child and distinguished one male from 
another. It may be it will always be so. Men were 
released from that close, continuous touch with phy- 
sical necessities long before women were. It's only 
now that women begin to be released. For ages now 
men have been wandering from field and home and 
city, over the hills and far away, in search of ad- 
ventures and fresh ideas and the wells of mystery 
beyond the edge of the world, but it's only now that 
the woman comes with them too. Our difference isn't 
a difference in kind, old Marjorie; it's the difference 
between the old adventurer and the new feet upon the 
trail." 

" We've got to come," said Marjorie. 

" Oh ! you've got to come. No good to be pio- 
neers if the race does not follow. The women are the 
backbone of the race; the men are just the individ- 
uals. Into this Labrador and into all the wild and 
desolate places of thought and desire, if men come 
you women have to come too and bring the race 
with you. Some day." 

" A long d'ay, mate of my heart." 

" Who knows how long or how far? Aren't you 
at any rate here, dear woman of mine. . . . (Surely 
you are here).' 1 

He went off at a tangent. " There's all those 
words that seem to mean something and then don't 



LONELY HUT 505 

seem to mean anything, that keep shifting to and 
fro from the deepest significance to the shallowest of 
claptrap, Socialism, Christianity. . . . You know, 
they aren't anything really, as yet ; they are some- 
thing trying to be. . . . Haven't I said that before, 
Marjorie?" 

She looked round at him. " You said something 
like that when you were delirious," she answered, 
after a little pause. " It's one of the ideas that you're 
struggling with. You go On, old man, and talk. 
We've months for repetitions." 

" Well, I mean that all these things are seeking 
after a sort of co-operation that's greater than our 
power even of imaginative realization; that's what I 
mean. The kingdom of Heaven, the communion of 
saints, the fellowship of men; these are things like 
high peaks far out of the common life of every day, 
shining things that madden certain sorts of men to 
climb. Certain sorts of us ! I'm a religious man, I'm 
a socialistic man. These calls are more to me than my 
daily bread. I've got something in me more general- 
izing than most men. I'm more so than many other 
men and most other women, I'm more socialistic than 
you. ..." 

" You know, Marjorie, I've always felt you're a 
finer individual than me, I've never had a doubt of it. 
You're more beautiful by far than I, woman for my 
man. You've a keener appetite for things, a firmer 
grip on the substance of life. I love to see you do 
things, love to see you move, love to watch your 
hands ; you've cleverer hands than mine by far. . . . 
And yet I'm a deeper and bigger thing than you. 
I reach up to something you don't reach up to. ... 
You're in life and I'm a little out of it, I'm like 
one of those fish that began to be amphibian, I go out 
into something where you don't follow where you 
hardly begin to follow 



506 MARRIAGE 

That's the real perplexity between thousands of 
men and women. . . . 

" It seems to me that the primitive socialism of 
Christianity and all the stuff of modern socialism 
that matters is really aiming almost unconsciously, 
I admit at times at one simple end, at the release 
of the human spirit from the individualistic strug- 
gle 

" You used ' release' the other day, Marjorie? Of 
course, I remember. It's queer how I go on talking 
after you have understood." 

" It was just a flash," said Marjorie. " We 
have intimations. Neither of us really understands. 
We're like people climbing a mountain in a mist, 
that thins out for a moment and shows valleys and 
cities, and then closes in again, before we can recog- 
nize them or make out where we are." 

Trafford thought. "When I talk to you, I've 
always felt I mustn't be too vague. And the very 
essence of all this is a vague thing, something we 
shall never come nearer to it in all our lives than to see 
it as a shadow and a glittering that escapes again into 
a mist. . . . And yet it's everything that matters, 
everything, the only thing that matters truly and for 
ever through the whole range of life. And we have 
to serve it with the keenest thought, the utmost pa- 
tience, inordinate veracity. . . . 

" The practical trouble between your sort and 
my sort, Marjorie, is the trouble between faith and 
realization. You demand the outcome. Oh! and I 
hate to turn aside and realize. I've had to do it for 
seven years. Damnable years ! Men of my sort want 
to understand. We want to understand, and you ask 
us to make. We want to understand atoms, ions, 
molecules, refractions. You ask us to make rubber 
and diamonds. I suppose it's right that incidentally 



LONELY HUT 507 

we should make rubber and diamonds. Finally, I 
warn you, we will make rubber unnecessary and 
diamonds valueless. And again we want to under- 
stand how people react upon one another to produce 
social consequences, and you ask us to put it at once 
into a draft bill for the reform of something or 
other. I suppose life lies between us somewhere, 
we're the two poles of truth seeking and truth get- 
ting; with me alone it would be nothing but a lumin- 
ous dream, with you nothing but a scramble in which 
sooner or later all the lamps would be upset. . . . 
But it's ever too much of a scramble yet, and ever 
too little of a dream. All our world over there is 
full of the confusion and wreckage of premature 
realizations. There's no real faith in thought and 
knowledge yet. Old necessity has driven men so hard 
that they still rush with a wild urgency though she 
goads no more. Greed and haste, and if, indeed, we 
seem to have a moment's breathing space, then the 
Gawdsaker tramples us under." 

"My dear!" cried Mar j one, with a sharp note 
of amusement. " What is a Gawdsaker?" 

" Oh," said Trafford, " haven't you heard that 
before? He's the person who gets excited by any 
deliberate discussion and gets up wringing his hands 
and screaming, ' For Gawd's sake, let's do something 
now!' I think they used it first for Pethick Lawrence, 
that man who did so much to run the old militant 
suffragettes and burke the proper discussion of 
woman's future. You know. You used to have 'em 
in Chelsea with their hats. Oh ! ' Gawdsaking* is 
the curse of all progress, the hectic consumption that 
kills a thousand good beginnings. You see it in 
small things and in great. You see it in my life; 
Gawdsaking turned my life-work to cash and promo- 
tions, Gawdsaking Look at the way the aviators 



508 MARRIAGE 



took to flying for prizes and gate-money, the way 
pure research is swamped by endowments for tech- 
nical applications ! Then that poor ghost-giant of 
an idea the socialists have; it's been treated like 
one of those unborn lambs they kill for the fine skin 
of it, made into results before ever it was alive. 
Was there anything more pitiful? The first great 
dream and then the last phase! when your Aunt 
Plessington and the district visitors took and used 
it as a synonym for Payment in Kind. . . . It's na- 
tural, I suppose, for people to be eager for results, 
personal and immediate results the last lesson of 
life is patience. Naturally they want reality, na- 
turally! They want the individual life, something 
to handle and feel and use and live by, something of 
their very own before they die, and they want it 
now. But the thing that matters for the race, Mar- 
jorie, is a very different thing; it is to get the emerg- 
ing thought process clear and to keep it clear and 
to let those other hungers go. We've got to go back 
to England on the side of that delay, that arrest of 
interruption, that detached, observant, synthesizing 
process of the mind, that solvent of difficulties 
and obsolescent institutions, which is the reality of 
collective human life. We've got to go back on the 
side of pure science literature untrammeled by the 
preconceptions of the social schemers art free from 
the urgency of immediate utility and a new, a regal, 
a god-like sincerity in philosophy. And, above all, 
we've got to stop this Jackdaw buying of yours, my 
dear, which is the essence of all that is wrong with the 
world, this snatching at everything, which loses every- 
thing worth having in life, this greedy confused 
realization of our accumulated resources! You're 
going to be a non-shopping woman now. You're to 
come out of Bond Street, you and your kind, like 



LONELY HUT 509 

Israel leaving the Egyptian flesh-pots. You're going 
to be my wife and my mate. . . . Less of this service 
of things. Investments in comfort, in security, in 
experience, yes ; but not just spending any more. . . ." 

He broke off abruptly with : " I want to go back 
and begin." 

"Yes," said Marjorie, "we will go back," and 
saw minutely and distantly, and yet as clearly and 
brightly as if she looked into a concave mirror, that 
tall and dignified study, a very high room indeed, 
with a man writing before a fine, long-curtained 
window and a greal lump of rich-glowing Labradorite 
upon his desk before him holding together an accu- 
mulation of written sheets. . . . 

She knew exactly the shop in Oxford Street where 
the stuff for the curtains might be best obtained. 

rr 

One night Marjorie had been sitting musing be- 
fore the stove for a long time, and suddenly she said: 
" I wonder if we shall fail. I wonder if we shall get 
into a mess again when we are back in London. . . . 
As big a mess and as utter a discontent as sent us 
here. ..." 

Trafford was scraping out his pipe, and did not 
answer for some moments. Then he remarked : " What 
nonsense !" 

" But we shall," she said. " Everybody fails. To 
some extent, we are bound to fail. Because indeed 
nothing is clear; nothing is a clear issue. . . . You 
know I'm just the old Marjorie really in spite of 
all these resolutions the spendthrift, the restless, 
the eager. I'm a born snatcher and shopper. We're 
just the same people really." 

"No," he said, after thought. "You're all 
Labrador older." 



510 MARRIAGE 

" I always have failed," she considered, " when it 
came to any special temptations, Rag. I can't stand 
not having a thing!" 

He made no answer. 

" And you're still the same old Rag, you know," 
she went on. " Who weakens into kindness if I cry. 
Who likes me well-dressed. Who couldn't endure to 
see me poor." 

" Not a bit of it. No ! I'm a very different Rag 
with a very different Marjorie. Yes indeed! Things 
are graver. Why . I'm lame for life and 1 I've a 
scar. The very look of things is changed. ..." He 
stared at her face and said : " You've hidden the 
looking-glass and you think I haven't noted it " 

" It keeps on healing," she interrupted. " And if 
it comes to that where's my complexion?" She 
laughed. " These are just the superficial aspects of 
the case." 

" Nothing ever heals completely," he said, an- 
swering her first sentence, " and nothing ever goes 
back to the exact place it held before. We are differ- 
ent, you sun-bitten, frost-bitten wife of mine." . . . 

" Character is character," said Marjorie, coming 
back to her point. " Don't exaggerate conversion, 
dear. It's not a bit of good pretending we shan't 
fall away, both of us. Each in our own manner. We 
shall. We shall, old man. London is still a tempting 
and confusing place, and you can't alter people fun- 
damentally, not even by half-freezing and half- 
starving them. You only alter people fundamentally 
by killing them and replacing them. I shall be ex- 
travagant again and forget again, try as I may, 
and you will work again and fall away again and for- 
give me again. You know It's just as though 

we were each of us not one person, but a lot of per- 
sons, who sometimes meet and shout all together, and 



LONELY HUT 511 

then disperse and forget and plot against each 
other. ..." 

" Oh, things will happen again," said Trafford, 
in her pause. " But they wll happen again with a 
difference after this. With a difference. That's 
the good of it all. . . . We've found something here 
that makes everything different. . . . We've found 
each other, too, dear wife." 

She thought intently. 

" I am afraid," she whispered. 

" But what is 1 there to be afraid of?** 

" Myself." 

She spoke after a little pause that seemed to hesi- 
tate. " At times I wish oh, passionately ! that I 
could pray." 

"Why don't you?" 

" I don't believe enough in that. I wish I did." 

Trafford thought. " People are always so exact- 
ing about prayer," he said. 

" Exacting." 

" You want to pray and you can't make terms 
for a thing you want. I used to think I could. I 
wanted God to come and demonstrate a bit. . . . It's 
no good, Madge. ... If God chooses to be silent 
you must pray to the silence. If he chooses to live in 
darkness, you must pray to the night. ..." 

" Yes," said Marjorie, " I suppose one must." 

She thought. " I suppose in the end one does," 
she said. . . . 

18 

Mixed up with this entirely characteristic theol- 
ogy of theirs and their elaborate planning-out of a 
new life in London were other strands of thought. 
Queer memories of London and old times together 



512 MARRIAGE 

would flash with a peculiar brightness across 1 their 
contemplation of the infinities and the needs of man- 
kind. Out of nowhere, quite disconnectedly, would 
come the human, finite: " Do you remember ?" 

Two things particularly pressed into their minds. 
One was the thought of their children, and I do not 
care to tell how often in the day now they caluclated 
the time in England, and tried to guess to a half mile 
or so where those young people might be and what 
they might be doing. " The shops are bright for 
Christmas now," said Marjorie. " This year Dick 
was to have had his first fireworks. I wonder if he 
did. I wonder if he burnt his dear little funny stumps 
of fingers. I hope not." 

" Oh, just a little," said Trafford. " I remember 
how a squib made my glove smoulder and singed 
me, and how my mother kissed me for taking it like a 
man. It was the best part of the adventure." 

" Dick shall burn his fingers when- his mother's 
home to kiss him. But spare his fingers now, 
Dadda. ..." 

The other topic was food. 

It was only after they had been doing it for a 
week or so that they remarked how steadily they 
gravitated to reminiscences, suggestions, descriptions 
and long discussions of eatables sound, solid eat- 
ables. They told over the particulars of dinners 
they had imagined altogether forgotten ; neither hosts 
nor conversations seemed to matter now in the slight- 
est degree, but every item in the menu had its place. 
They nearly quarrelled one day about hors-d'oeuvre. 
Trafford wanted to dwell on them when Marjorie 
was eager for the soup. 

" It's niggling with food,'* said Marjorie. 

a Oh, but there's no reason," said Trafford, " why 
yon shouldn't take a lot of hors-d'oeuvre. Three or 



LONELY HUT 513 

four sardines, and potato salad and a big piece of 
smoked salmon, and some of that Norwegian herring, 
and so on, and keep the olives by you to pick at. It's 
a beginning." 

" It's it's immoral," said Marjorie, " that's 
what I feel. If one needs a whet to eat, one shouldn't 
eat. The proper beginning of a dinner is soup 
good, hot, rich soup. Thick soup with things in it, 
vegetables and meat and things. Bits of oxtail." 

" Not peas." 

" No, not peas. Pea-soup is tiresome. I never 
knew anything one tired of so soon. I wish we hadn't 
relied on it so nrach." 

" Thick soup's all very well," said Trafford, " but 
how about that clear stuff they give you in the little 
pavement restaurants in Paris. You know Croute- 
au-pot, with lovely great crusts and big leeks and 
lettuce leaves and so on! Tremendous aroma of 
onions, and beautiful little beads of fat! And being 
a clear soup, you see what there is. That's inter- 
esting. Twenty-five centimes, Marjorie. Lord! I'd 
give a guinea a plate for it. I'd give five pounds for 
one of those jolly white-metal tureens full you 
know, full, with little drops all over the outside of it, 
and the ladle sticking out under the lid." 

" Have you ever tasted turtle soup ?" 

" Rather. They give it you in the City. The 
fat's ripping. But they're rather precious with it, 
you know. For my own part, I don't think soup 
should be doled out. I always liked the soup we used 
to get at the Harts'; but then they never give you 
enough, you know not nearly enough." 

" About a tablespoonful," said Marjorie. " It's 
mocking an appetite." 

" Still there's things to follow," said Trafford. . . . 

They discussed the proper order of a dinner rery 



514 MARRIAGE 

carefully. They decided that sorbets and ices were 
not only unwholesome, but nasty. " In London," 
said Trafford, " one's taste gets vitiated." . . . 

They weighed the merits of French cookery, mod- 
ern international cookery, and produced alternatives. 
Trafford became very eloouent about old English 
food. " Dinners," said Trafford, " should be feast- 
ing, not the mere satisfaction of a necessity. There 
should be amplitude. I remember a recipe for a 
pie; I think it was in one of those books that man 
Lucas used to compile. If I remember rightly, it 
began with: * Take a swine and hew it into gobbets.' 
Gobbets ! That's something like a beginning. It was 
a big pie with tiers and tiers of things, and it kept it 
up all the way in that key. . . . And then what could 
be better than prime British-fed roast beef, reddish, 
just a shade on the side of underdone, and not too 
finely cut. Mutton can't touch it." 

" Beef is the best," she said. 

" Then our English cold meat again. What can 
equal it? Such stuff as they give in a good country 
inn, a huge joint of beef you cut from it yourself, 
you know as much as you like with mustard, pickles, 
celery, a tankard of stout, let us say. Pressed beef, 
such as they'll give you at the Reform, too, that's 
good eating for a man. With chutney, and then old 
cheese to follow. And boiled beef, with little carrots 
and turnips and a dumpling or so. Eh?" 

" Of course," said Marjorie, " one must do jus- 
tice to a well-chosen turkey, a fat turkey." 

" Or a good goose, for the matter of that with 
honest, well-thought-out stuffing. I like the little 
sausages round the dish of a turkey, too ; like cherubs 
they are, round the feet of a Madonna. . . . There's 
much to be said for sausage, Marjorie. It concen- 
trates." 



LONELY HUT 515 

Sausage led to Germany. " I'm not one of those 
patriots," he was saying presently, " who run down 
other countries by way of glorifying their own. While 
I was in Germany I tasted many good things. There's 
their Leberwurst ; it's never bad, and, at its best, it's 
splendid. It's only a fool would reproach Germany 
with sausage. Devonshire black-pudding, of course, 
is the master of any Blutwurst, but there's all those 
others on the German side, Frankfurter, big reddish 
sausage stuff again with great crystalline lumps of 
white fat. And how well they cook their rich hashes, 
and the thick gravies they make. Curious, how much 
better the cooking of Teutonic peoples is than the 
cooking of the South Europeans ! It's as if one need- 
ed a colder climate to brace a cook to his business. 
The Frenchman and the Italian trifle and stimulate. 
It's as if they'd never met a hungry man. No Ger- 
man would have thought of souffle. Ugh ! it's vicious 
eating. There's much that's fine, though, in Austria 
and Hungary. I wish I had travellel in Hungary. 
Do you remember how once or twice we've lunched at 
that Viennese place in Regent Street, and how they've 
given us stuffed Paprika, eh?" 

" That was a good place. I remember there was 
stewed beef once with a lot of barley such good 
barley!" 

" Every country has its glories. One talks of the 
cookery of northern countries and then suddenly one 
thinks of curry, with lots of rice." 

" And lots of chicken !" 

" And lots of hot curry powder, very hot. And 
look at America ! Here's a people who haven't any of 
them been out of Europe for centuries, and yet they 
have as different a table as you could well imagine 
There's a kind of fish, planked shad, that they cook 
on resinous wood roast it, I suppose. It's substan- 



516 MARRIAGE 

tial, like nothing else in the world. And how good, 
too, with turkey are sweet potatoes. Then they have 
such a multitude of cereal things; stuff like their 
buckwheat cakes, all swimming in golden syrup. And 
Indian corn, again !" 

" Of course, corn is being anglicized. I've often 
given you corn latterly, before we came away." 

" That sort of separated grain out of tins. 
Like chicken's food ! It's not the real thing. You 
should eat corn on the cob American fashion ! It's 
fine. I had it when I was in the States. You know, 
you take it up in your hands by both ends you've 
seen the cobs? and gnaw." 

The craving air of Labrador at a temperature 
of 20 Fahrenheit, and methodically stinted ra- 
tions, make great changes in the outward qualities of 
the mind. " I'd like to do that," said Marjorie. 

Her face flushed a little at a guilty thought, her 
eyes sparkled. She leant forward and spoke in a 
confidential undertone. 

" I'd I'd like to eat a mutton chop like that," 
said Marjorie. 

20 

One morning Marjorie broached something she 
had had on her mind for several days. 

M Old man," she said, " I can't stand it any long- 
er. I'm going to thaw my scissors and cut your 
hair. . . . And then you'll have to trim that beard of 
yours." 

" You'll have to dig out that looking-glass." 

" I know," said Marjorie. She looked at him. 
" You'll never be a pretty man again," she said- 
" But there's a sort of wild splendour. . . And I 
love every inch and scrap of you. . .** 



LONELY HUT 517 

Their eyes met. " We're a thousand deeps now 
below the look of things," said Trafford. "We'd 
love each other minced." 

She broke into that smiling laugh of hers. " Oh ! 
it won't come to that" she said. " Trust my house- 
keeping P* 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH 

THE TRAIL TO THE SEA 



ONE astonishing afternoon in January a man 
came out of the wilderness to Lonely Hut. He was 
a French-Indian half-breed, a trapper up and down 
the Green River and across the Height of Land to 
Sea Lake. He arrived in a sort of shy silence, and 
squatted amiably on a log to thaw. " Much snow," 
he said, " and little fur." 

After he had sat at their fire for an hour and eaten 
and drunk, his purpose in coming thawed out. He 
explained he had just come on to them to see how 
they were. He was, he said, a planter furring; he 
had a line of traps, about a hundred and twenty miles 
in length. The nearest trap in his path before he 
turned northward over the divide was a good forty 
miles down the river. He had come on from there. 
Just to have a look. His name, he said, was Louis 
Napoleon Partington. He had carried a big pack, 
a rifle and a dead marten, they lay beside him 
and out of his shapeless mass of caribou skins and 
woolen clothing and wrappings, peeped a genial, oily, 
brown face, very dirty, with a strand of blue-black 
hair across one eye, irregular teeth in its friendly 
smile, and little, squeezed-up eyes. 

Conversation developed. There had been doubts 
of his linguistic range at first, but he had an under- 
standing expression, and his English seemed gutteral 
rather than really bad. 

He was told the tremendous story of Trafford's 
leg; was shown it, and felt it; he interpolated thick 

518 



THE TRAIL TO THE SEA 519 

and whistling noises to show how completedy he fol- 
lowed their explanations, and then suddenly he began 
a speech that made all his earlier taciturnity seem 
but the dam of a great reservoir of mixed and partly 
incomprehensible English. He complimented Mar- 
jorie so effusively and relentlessly and shamelessly as 
to produce a pause when he had done. " Yes," he 
said, and nodded to button up the whole. He sucked 
his pipe, well satisfied with his eloquence. Trafford 
spoke in his silence. " We are coming down," he said. 

("I thought, perhaps " whispered Louis Na- 
poleon.) 

" Yes," said Trafford, " we are coming down with 
you. Why not? We can get a sledge over the snow 
now? It's hard? I mean a flat sledge like this. 
See? Like this." He got up and dragged Marjorie's 
old arrangement into view. " We shall bring all the 
stuff we can down with us, grub, blankets not the 
tent, it's too bulky; we'll leave a lot of the heavy 
gear." 

" You'd have to leave the tent," said Louis Na- 
poleon. 

" I said leave the tent." 

" And you'd have to leave . . . some of those 
tins." 

" Nearly all of them." 

" And the ammunition, there ; except just a 
little." 

" Just enough for the journey down." 

"Perhaps a gun?" 

" No, not a gun. Though, after all, well, we'd 
return one of the guns. Give it you to bring back 
here." 

" Bring back here?" 

If you liked." 

For some moments Louis Napoleon was intently 



520 MARRIAGE 

silent. When he spoke his voice was gutteral with 
emotion. " After," he said thoughtfully and paused, 
and then resolved to have it over forthwith, " all you 
leave will be mine? Eh?" 

Trafford said that was the idea. 

Louis Napoleon's eye brightened, but his face 
preserved its Indian calm. 

" I will take you right to Hammond's," he said, 
" Where they have dogs. And then I can come back 
here. ..." 



They had talked out nearly every particular of 
their return before they slept that night ; they yarned 
away three hours over the first generous meal that 
any one of them had eaten for many weeks. Louis 
Napoleon stayed in the hut as a matter of course, and 
reposed with snores and choking upon Marjorie's 
sledge and within a yard of her. It struck her as she 
lay awake and listened that the housemaids in Sussex 
Square would have thought things a little congested 
for a lady's bedroom, and then she reflected that after 
all it wasn't much worse than a crowded carriage in 
an all-night train from Switzerland. She tried to 
count how many people there had been in that com- 
partment, andj failed. How stuffy that had been 
the smell of cheese and all! And with that, after a 
dream that she was whaling and had harpooned a 
particularly short-winded whale she fell very peace- 
fully into oblivion. 

Next day was spent in the careful preparation of 
the two sledges. They intended to take a full pro- 
vision for six weeks, although they reckoned that 
with good weather they ought to be down at Ham- 
mond's in four. 



THE TRAIL TO THE SEA 521 

The day after was Sunday, and Louis Napoleon 
would not look at the sledges or packing. Instead he 
held a kind of religious service which consisted partly 
in making Trafford read aloud out of a very oily old 
New Testament he produced, a selected passage from 
the book of Corinthians, and partly in moaning 
rather than singing several hymns. He was rather 
disappointed that they did not join in with him. In 
the afternoon he heated some water, went into the 
tent with it and it would appear partially washed his 
face. In the evening, after they had supped, he dis- 
cussed religion, being curious by this time about their 
beliefs and procedure. 

He spread his mental and spiritual equipment 
before them very artlessly. Their isolation and their 
immense concentration on each other had made them 
sensitive to personal quality, and they listened to the 
broken English and the queer tangential starts into 
new topics of this dirty mongrel creature with the 
keenest appreciation of its quality. It was inconsis- 
tent, miscellaneous, simple, honest, and human. It 
was as touching as the medley in the pocket of a dead 
schoolboy. He was superstitious and sceptical and 
sensual and spiritual, and very, very earnest. The 
things he believed, even if they were just beliefs 
about the weather or drying venison or filling pipes, 
he believed with emotion. He flushed as he told them. 
For all his intellectual muddle they felt he knew how 
to live honestly and die if need be very finely. 

He was more than a little distressed at their ap- 
parent ignorance of the truths of revealed religion 
as it is taught in the Moravian schools upon the coast, 
and indeed it was manifest that he had had far more 
careful and infinitely more sincere religious teaching 
than either Trafford or Marjorie. For a time the 
missionary spirit inspired him, and then he quite for- 



522 MARRIAGE 

got his solicitude for their conversion in a number 
of increasingly tall anecdotes about hunters and fish- 
ermen, illustrating at first the extreme dangers of any 
departure from a rigid Sabbatarianism, but presently 
becoming just stories illustrating the uncertainty of 
life. Thence he branched off to the general topic of 
life upon the coast and the relative advantages of 
"planter" and fisherman. 

And then with a kindling eye he spoke of women, 
and how that some day he would marry. His voice 
softened, and he addressed himself more particularly 
to Marjorie. He didn't so much introduce the topic 
of the lady as allow the destined young woman sud- 
denly to pervade his discourse. She was, it seemed, 
a servant, an Esquimaux girl at the Moravian Mission 
station at Manivikovik. He had been plighted to her 
for nine years. He described a gramophone he had 
purchased down at Port Dupre and brought back to 
her three hundred miles up the coast it seemed to 
Marjorie an odd gift for an Esquimaux maiden 
and he gave his views upon its mechanism. He said 
God was with the man who invented the gramophone 
" truly." They would have found one a very great 
relief to the tediums of their sojourn at Lonely Hut. 
The gramophone he had given his betrothed! pos- 
sessed records of the Rev. Capel Gumm's preaching 
and of Madame Melba's singing, a revival hymn call- 
ed "Sowing the Seed," and a comic song they could 
not make out his pronunciation of the title that 
made you die with laughter. " It goes gobble, gobble, 
gobble," he said, with a solemn appreciative reflec- 
tion of those distant joys. 

" It's good to be jolly at times," he said with his 
bright eyes scanning Marjorie's, face a little doubt- 
fully, as if such ideas were better left for week-day 
expression. 



THE TRAIL TO THE SEA 523 



Their return was a very different journey from the 
toilsome ascent of the summer. An immense abund- 
ance of snow masked the world, snow that made them 
regret acutely they had not equipped themselves with 
ski. With ski and a good circulation, a man may go 
about Labrador in winter, six times more easily than 
by the canoes and slow trudging of summer travel. 
As it was they were glad of their Canadian snow 
shoes. One needs only shelters after the Alpine Club 
hut fashion, and all that vast solitary country would 
be open in the wintertime. Its shortest day is no 
shorter than the shortest day in Cumberland or Dub- 
lin. 

This is no place to tell of the beauty and wonder 
of snow* and ice, the soft contours of gentle slopes, 
the rippling of fine snow under a steady wind 1 , the 
long shadow ridges of shining powder on the lee of 
trees and stones and rocks, the delicate wind streaks 
over broad surfaces like the marks of a chisel in mar- 
ble, the crests and cornices, the vivid brightness of 
edges in the sun, the glowing yellowish light on sun- 
lit surfaces, the long blue shadows, the flush of sunset 
and sunrise and the pallid unearthly desolation of 
snow beneath the moon. Nor need the broken snow in 
woods and amidst tumbled stony slopes be described, 
nor the vast soft overhanging crests on every out- 
standing rock beside the icebound river, nor the huge 
stalactites and stalagmites of green-blue ice below the 
cliffs, nor trees burdened and broken by frost and 
snow, nor snow upon ice, nor the blue pools at midday 
upon the surface of the ice-stream. Across the smooth, 
wind-swept ice of the open tarns they would find a 
growth of ice flowers, six-rayed and complicated, 



524 MARRIAGE 

more abundant and more beautiful than the Alpine 
summer flowers. 

But the wind was very bitter, and the sun had 
scarcely passed its zenith before the thought of fuel 
and shelter came back into their minds. 

As they approached Partington's tilt, at the point 
where his trapping ground turned out of the Green 
River gorge, he became greatly obsessed by the 
thought of his traps. He began to talk of all that he 
might find in them, all he hoped to find, and the 
" dallars" that might ensue. They slept the third 
night, Marjorie within and the two men under the 
lee of the little cabin, and Partington was up and 
away before dawn to a trap towards the ridge. He 
had! infected Marjorie and Trafford with a sympa- 
thetic keenness, but when they saw his killing of a 
marten that was still alive in its trap, they suddenly 
conceived a distaste for trapping. 

They insisted they must witness no more. They 
would wait while he went to a trap. . . . 

" Think what he's doing!" said Trafford, as they 
sat together under the lee of a rock waiting for him. 
" We imagined this was a free, simple-souled man 
leading an unsophisticated life on the very edge of 
humanity, and really he is as much a dependant of 
your woman's world, Marjorie, as any sweated seam- 
stress in a Marylebone slum. Lord! how far those 
pretty wasteful hands of women reach! All these 
poor broken and starving beasts he finds and slaugh- 
ers are, from the point of view of our world, just furs. 
Furs ! Poor little snarling unfortunates ! Their pelts 
will be dressed and prepared because women who have 
never dreamt of this bleak wilderness desire them. 
They will get at last into Regent Street shops, and 
Bond Street shops, and shops in Fifth Avenue and in 
Paris and Berlin, they will make delightful deep muffs, 



THE TRAIL TO THE SEA 525 

with scent and little bags and powder puffs and all 
sorts of things tucked away inside, and long wraps for 
tall women, and jolly little frames of soft fur for 
pretty faces, and dainty coats and rugs for expensive 
little babies in Kensington Gardens." . . . 

" I wonder," reflected Marjorie, " if I could buy 
one perhaps. As a memento." 

He looked at her with eyes of quiet amusement. 

"Oh!" she cried, "I didn't mean to! The old 
Eve!" 

"The old Adam is with her," said Trafford. 
** He's wanting to give it her. ... We don't cease 
to be human, Madge, you know, because we've got an 
idea now of just where we are. I wonder, which 
would you like? I dare say we could arrange it." 

" No," said Marjorie, and thought. " It would 
be jolly," she said. " All the same, you know and 
just to show you I'm not going to let you buy me 
that fur." 

" I'd like to," said Trafford. 

" No," said Marjorie, with a decision that was 
almost fierce. " I mean it. I've got more to do than 
you in the way of reforming. It's just because al- 
ways I've let my life be made up of such little things 
that I mustn't. Indeed I mustn't. Don't make things 
hard for me." 

He looked at her for a moment. " Very well," he 
said. " But I'd have liked to." . . . 

" You're right," he added, five seconds later. 

"Oh! I'm right." 

4 

One day Louis Napoleon sent them on along the 
trail while he went up the mountain to a trap among 
the trees. He rejoined them not as his custom was, 



526 MARRIAGE 

shouting inaudible conversation for the last hundred 
yards or so, but in silence. They wondered at that, 
and at the one clumsy gesture that flourished some- 
thing darkly grey at them. What had happened to 
the man? Whatever he had caught he was hugging 
it as one hugs a cat, and stroking it. " Ugh !" he 
said deeply, drawing near. "Oh!" A solemn joy 
irradiated his face, and almost religious ecstasy found 
expression. 

He had got a silver fox, a beautifully marked sil- 
ver fox, the best luck of Labrador ! One goes for years 
without one, in hope, and when it comes, it pays the 
trapper's debts, it clears his life f or years ! 

They tried poor inadequate congratulation .... 

As they sat about the fire that night a silence 
came upon Louis Napoleon. It was manifest that his 
mind was preoccupied. He got up, walked about, 
inspected the miracle of fur that had happened to 
him, returned, regarded them. " M'm," he said, and 
stroked his chin with his forefinger. A certain diffi- 
dence and yet a certain dignity of assurance mingled 
in his manner. It wasn't so much a doubt of his own 
correctness as of some possible ignorance of the finer 
shades on their part that might embarrass him. He 
coughed a curt preface, and intimated he had a re- 
quest to make. Behind the Indian calm of his face 
glowed tremendous feeling, like the light of a foundry 
furnace shining through chinks in the door. He spoke 
in a small flat voice, exercising great self-control. 
His wish, he said, in view of all that had happened, 
was a little thing. . . . This was nearly a perfect day 
for him, and one thing only remained. ..." Well," 
he said, and hung. "Well," said Trafford. He 
plunged. Just simply this. [Would they give him 
the brandy bottle and let him get drunk? Mr. Gren- 
fell was a good man, a very good man, but he had 



THE TRAIL TQ THE SEA 

made brandy dear dear beyond the reach of com- 
mon men altogether along the coast. . . . 

He explained, dear bundle of clothes and dirt! 
that he was always perfectly respectable when he was 
drunk. 

5 

It seemed strange to Trafford that now that Mar- 
jorie was going home, a wild impatience to see her 
children should possess her. So long as it had been 
probable that they would stay out their year in La- 
brador, that separation, had seemed mainly a senti- 
mental trouble; now at times it was like an animal 
craving. She would talk of them for hours at a 
stretch, and when she was not talking he could see 
her eyes fixed ahead, and knew that she was antici- 
pating a meeting. And for the first time it seemed 
the idea of possible misadventure troubled her. . . . 

They reached Hammond's in one and twenty days 
from Lonely Hut, three days they had been forced to 
camp because of a blizzard, and three because Louis 
Napoleon was rigidly Sabbatarian. They parted 
from him reluctantly, and the next day Hammond's 
produced its dogs, twelve stout but extremely hungry; 
dogs, and sent the Traffords on to the Green River 
pulp-mills, where there were good beds and a copious 
supply of hot water. Thence they went to Maniviko- 
vik, and thence the new Marconi station sent their 
inquiries home, inquiries that were answered next day 
with matter-of-fact brevity: " Everyone well, love 
from all." 

When the operator hurried with that to Marjorie 
she received it off-handedly, glanced at it carelessly, 
asked him to smoke, remarked that wireless tele- 
graphy was a wonderful thing, and then, in the midst 



528 MARRIAGE 

of some unfinished commonplace about the tempera- 
ture, broke down and wept wildly and uncontroll- 
ably. ... 

$6 

Then came the long, wonderful ride southward 
day after day along the coast to Port DuprS, a ride 
from headland to headland across the frozen bays be- 
hind long teams of straining, furry dogs, that leapt 
and yelped as they ran. Sometimes over the land the 
brutes shirked and loitered and called for the whip ; 
they were a quarrelsome crew to keep waiting; but 
across the sea-ice they went like the wind, and down- 
hill the komatic chased their waving tails. The 
sledges swayed and leapt depressions, and shot ath- 
wart icy stretches. The Traffords, spectacled and 
wrapped to their noses, had all the sensations then of 
hunting an unknown quarry behind a pack of wolves. 
The snow blazed under the sun, out to sea beyond the 
ice the water glittered, and it wasn't so much air they 
breathed as a sort of joyous hunger. 

One day their teams insisted upon racing. 

Marjorie's team was the heavier, her driver more 
skillful, and her sledge the lighter, and she led in 
that wild chase from start to finish, but ever and 
again Trafford made wild spurts that brought him al- 
most level. Once, as he came alongside, she heard 
him laughing joyously. 

"Marjorie," he shouted, " d'you remember? Old 
donkey cart?" 

Her team yawed away, and as he swept near 
again, behind his pack of whimpering, straining, furi- 
ous dogs, she heard him shouting, " You know, that 
old cart ! Under the overhanging trees ! So thick and 
green they met overhead ! You know ! When you and 



THE TRAIL TO THE SEA 529 

I had our first talk together ! In the lane. It wasn't 
so fast as this, eh?" . . . 

7 

At Port Dupre they stayed ten days days that 
Marjorie could only make tolerable by knitting ab- 
surd garments for the children (her knitting was 
atrocious), and then one afternoon they heard the 
gun of the Grenfell, the new winter steamer from St. 
John's, signalling as it came in through the fog, very 
slowly, from that great wasteful world of men and 
women beyond the seaward grey. 



THE END 



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